Saturday, September 20, 2014

Film Review: The Tortured (2010)

The Tortured (Review)
United States/2010
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...a passable torture film."

After their child is abducted and killed, couple Elise (Erika Christensen) and Craig Landry (Jesse Metcalfe) seek justice... even if they have to do it themselves.

The Tortured drops you right into the abduction. The only time we see Elise and Craig with their child is during a few generic flashback montages during the first act. After this quick introduction, the serial killer goes to trial, Elise and Craig disagree with the sentence and decide to kidnap and torture him themselves. The rest of the film is the titular torture -- some very gruesome and demented stuff. I appreciate the attempt at the ending, but it didn't really land for me.

The biggest issue for The Tortured is the lack of buildup. Like I said, the film immediately drops you into the situation without any character or relationship buildup. It tries to make up for this with some generic montages, but it doesn't work. I'd love to root for these parents and feel their pain, but it is difficult to do so when you can't even identify with their character; in other words, the characters are practically nonexistent.

This, in turn, may make the film's violence feel more gratuitous than it already is. The violence is effective in creating some cringe-inducing moments, though. Fans of torture films (it feels odd saying that for some reason) will feel right at home with this graphic circus of violence and, well, torture. Not only is it physical, but it's also a little psychological. Other than the creative torture, there is some surprising suspense and tension. The only other issues the story faces are its contrived storytelling and plot contrivances; there are some inconsistent character arcs, too.

The acting is good for the most part. Erika Christensen is good during most of the film; she tends to overact whenever the role becomes demanding, though. I thought Jesse Metcalfe really under-performed during the introduction, but he got much better as the film progressed; I think he really brought it home. Otherwise, it's a fairly straightforward thriller. Director Robert Lieberman is able to conjure some decent suspense and some shocking violence; however, Marek Posival's writing is generic and contrived -- it seems like he spend most of his creativity thinking about torture rather than the themes in the film.

Overall, The Tortured is a merely decent film. It's short runtime, fast pace, and engaging story make this a great time killer. Ultimately, though, the film fails to deliver any effective buildup, fails to develop any character, and it fails to use its thought-provoking themes. It has so much potential, but instead opts to be passable torture film. And that's all it really is: a passable torture film.

Score: 5/10
Parental Guide: Graphic violence and blood, some brief sex and partial nudity.

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