Hello all! Let me begin by apologizing for the radio silence over the past few days. I actually watched a movie on Monday morning (which, I will be writing up momentarily), but I just couldn’t work up the energy to put any of my thoughts down on (virtual) paper. I know what you’re thinking, but it had nothing to do with the movie itself… it actually ended up being pretty good (again, more on that shortly). As I alluded to a few weeks ago, my girlfriend and I are in the process of putting together a move for later in the summer. The good news is that we found a place that we love. The bad news is that we have to be out of our current place by August 31st and we can’t move into our new place until the following day. Now, an overnight move can be difficult enough, but when you add the fact that it’s during the busiest moving days in Boston (where a mini-apocalypse happens every September 1st) it’s nearly impossible: U-Haul won’t give us a truck for more than eight hours, moving companies are price-gouging, and we’re too old to ask our friends to lug furniture. So, how have I dealt with this stress… I pulled the curtains in our apartments and played Batman: Arkham Knight for nearly two days straight. I know, I know… probably not the healthiest coping mechanisms… but, hey, there’s something cathartic about beating up a gaggle of criminals while dressed up as a giant bat. I appreciate that you’re all here to read about my summer experiment and probably couldn’t care less about my stress… most of you probably aren’t looking for a detailed explanation about my absences either. So, all I’ll say is that we finally figured it all out and we’re set for next month’s move… what that means for you is that I’m back and ready to watch some more movies!
As I mentioned, I actually watched this movie on Monday, so I’ve had a few days to mull it over (between punching street thugs in the face)… and, that’s probably a good thing. My estimation of the film increased (slightly) over the past few days. I’m not saying that Torment is an excellent film… it isn’t even a creative film, that’s for sure… but it has a couple of interesting elements that make it a generally enjoyable film. Before I get into the plot of the film, I want to comment on my immediate reaction to the film based on the Netflix cover art. I actively wondered how they didn’t get sued by Disney. The cover shows the silhouette of someone standing in front of a fire… this person just happens to be wearing what appears to be a mouse mask that looks suspiciously like Mickey. It’s a fairly effective picture… it definitely piqued my interest. Unfortunately, while the movie was fun, it never truly lived up to the cover. So, what is Torment about you might be asking… well, basically it’s about a new family (a father, young son, and a new wife/stepmother (her place in the family is hammered home… constantly… she’s a new step-mother and the son definitely doesn’t like it) that goes to their vacation home in the woods… a group of psychos show up and torment them (get it!?! Like the title!). There’s really not much more to it… which, is okay… what more do you need, really? That being said, it is also a fairly played out premise… especially when you consider the company Torment keeps like (the superior) The Strangers and (the far superior (to both)) You’re Next. It’s hard not to keep comparing these movies to one another and that means Torment just ends up being pale.
It’s really not a bad movie… it’s just a bit boring. Boring’s really not the right word though… the movie moves at a fairly face clip and it clocks in under 90 minutes (which, you all know by now I like)… but when you’re watching something you’ve seen several times before, it just lags in places… especially since you know what’s coming at nearly (okay, not nearly… every single) turn. So, that’s really the only fault of this film… well, that and the child actor isn’t great (but you know my stance on criticizing child actors… it just doesn’t seem fair… so, I’ll critique the filmmakers (director Jordan Barker and writers Michael Foster and Thomas Pound) in their choice of child actors). So, let’s talk about what this movie gets right. First up, the acting is fairly solid. Considering the fact that there are essentially only two adult victims, the filmmakers are putting a great deal of weight on their shoulders and, for the most part, Peter DaCunha and Katherine Isabelle do a solid job. Related to this is how the filmmakers structure the action. In most of these home-invasion movies the victims are hold-up together for most of the film… this, inevitably, leads to conflict between the characters, which, I always find annoying and (to be completely honest) lazy on the part of the writers. In Torment the filmmakers decide to go a different route. Specifically, they split up the two leads and have them battle their separate tormentors (get it!?!) alone. This accomplishes a few things. First, it ratchets up the tension and stress factor. Second, it avoids the silly bickering that tends to permeate this genre of film. Finally, it allows the filmmakers to play around a bit with parallel storytelling. This is accomplished with interesting cuts that helps to keep the pace of the film up. Another choice by the filmmakers left me scratching my head… not because I wasn’t sure why they made the decision they did, but, instead because I’m not sure what I think about it. I either loved it or hated it… truly. The main characters alternate (sometimes in the same scene) from being smart, competent, and conniving to being dumb, incompetent, and transparent in their plans. I’m fairly sure the filmmakers were going for realism here… this is probably how most people would act in this situation. Stress combined with luck would mean that some plans would work, some would fail, and that you would be on and off your game at various points. A part of me likes this… another part of my found it extremely annoying.
In the end, there’s not much new here, the “motivation” of the psychos seem tacked on, and the twist really isn’t much of a twist… but, if you’re looking for a tense, well shot, and fast paced movie (once the action starts) you could do a lot worse. Also, I have to say that I really enjoyed the “masks” used by the psychos… very entertaining and visually interesting.