20th Jun2019

‘The Tormented’ VOD Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Marnie Baxter, David Powell, Bruce McGuire, Barbara Di Bartolo, Michele Bevilacqua, Matt Patresi, Massimiliano Ubaldi, Roberta Picconi | Written by Rogan Roberts, Tim Pickett | Directed by Tim Pickett

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Written by Rogan Roberts and Tim Pickett and directed by Pickett himself, The Tormented is a dramatic horror movie about a couple who attempt to begin again after losing their young son in an awful car accident. They find themselves in an Italian town called Calabria, a town that slowly, over the course of the film, reveals itself to be much more than they’d expected. Can you say “Mafia” and “Cult”? I’m there.

There are various attributes and vehicles I love in horror and in drama, and the implementation of a cult in the story is one of them. Be it a more religious and realistic cult in a gritty human drama, or a supernatural cult in a horror film, it’s something I think really helps create a feeling of dread, and it was certainly what drew me in to The Tormented and peaked my interest in the first place.

I was pretty curious with how the script and direction of the film would turn out considering it’s the first time work of both Pickett and Roberts when it comes to making a feature film. I have to say, though, I was happily surprised for the most-part. The overall look and feel of the film works pretty well, and the locations of shooting along with some really nice looking camera shots show a very strong hand from Pickett. The script, while nothing that particularly blew my socks off, was also fine for what it did. I thought the characters, specifically Clare and Paul, were given a good amount of care to allow their characters to grow and adapt as the plot itself did. It is a story about them, about their marriage, their life after catastrophe, and they deal with it all in this new place with an underbelly that unmasks as we go along.

Clare, played by Marnie Baxter (Deep Lies, Cycle) is pretty damn excellent here. Clare shows fear, she shows a deep sadness, she shows reluctance. She is, really, the soul of the whole picture, the voice of the viewer and the heart of the story that we root for and stand alongside as everything happens. Baxter plays her with a subtle yet powerful edge, and though she’s an actor I have been unfamiliar with, I was impressed. David Powell (The Honey Killer) as Paul, is also strong in his role, and the story his character goes on startled me. The two characters really do go through a heck of a lot here, it’s hard not to sympathise and feel for them, and without giving anything away, it’s a surprising turning road as we travel from their initial loss, through their mourning, and into the darker corners of their lives and relationship.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with The Tormented. I hadn’t heard anything about it and didn’t know the actors of the film-makers prior to stepping in, so I was pleasantly greeted by an intriguing, fresh and unique story of loss, attempting to move on, and being met with something sinister in the process. It did, at times, in tone mostly, remind me a little of Don’t Look Now, and that’s obviously a compliment. There are things I was a little confused by, character traits that seemed to rear their heads without warning or reason, and some script decisions and side-character performances that shook me out of my immersion, but overall I enjoyed this. The supernatural and creepy elements and the grey and heartbroken tale of loss really delivering the goods and driving this beyond what it otherwise would have been. A standout performance from Baxter and a solid debut offering from director Tim Pickett.

Horror can be divisive, and this certainly has elements that hit and elements that didn’t, performances that worked very well and others that just faded into the background, and yet I found it to be both charming and full of interesting and compelling moments, enough to keep me entertained and involved for its 80 minute running time.

The Tormented really is a story of torment at its gloomy darkest and most authentic level, yet it takes enough twists and turns to remind you that this is, beyond those things, a pretty weird horror movie. Worth checking out, I’d say.

The Tormented is available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime now.

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