Starring Jesse Metcalfe, Erika Christensen, Bill Moseley
Twisted Pictures has a weird obsession with graphic violence. Their flagship series Saw is the most egregious offender, and with the exception of a few, most of their films have placed a strong emphasis on torture as its primary means of enticing the viewer. Torture certainly has its place in horror – The Woman is a prime example of it being used effectively – but only if it helps steer the narrative and helps form the bigger picture. IFC Films’
The Tortured, sadly, just says “Screw it,” and brings its title to life in the form of an utter waste of a film.
The Tortured follows Elise (Erika Christensen) and Craig (Jesse Metcalfe), a seemingly normal couple with an idyllic life that is turned upside down when their son Ben (Thomas Greenwood) is kidnapped from their front yard by degenerate John Kozlowski (Bill Moseley), who tortures and eventually kills him. Not content with the 25 to life sentence he is given after his arrest and trial, Elise and Craig decide to take matters into their own hands, kidnapping Kozlowski and subjecting him to endless torture.
Most of the film is comprised of Elise and Craig committing unspeakable acts of torture against Kozlowski; it’s really nothing you haven’t seen before. Cigarettes are extinguished on bare skin, limbs are broken, and, in one fleeting moment of creativity, oxygen deprived through the use of a mask. In the midst of it all our main characters wrestle with their decision, the circumstances of their situation quickly changing as the film attempts to be more than just endless torture.
You can tell it’s trying, but it doesn’t try hard enough. The acting is wooden, with Metcalfe and Christensen struggling through trite and unbelievable dialogue as they try and inject a modicum of despair and anger into their performances. Their rounds of torture are interspersed with threats and forced shouts of obscenities clearly meant to highlight the anger that drives them to commit such horrible acts, but it just comes off as incredibly stilted. Moseley brings little to the table, which is mostly irrelevant gives how little developed his character is. All we know is what we’re shown at the beginning of the film: He loves to wear make-up and scold Ben for being a naughty child. Beyond this, he’s nothing more than a victim at the hands of Elise and Craig, and thus a wasted opportunity for giving the film some much needed depth.
The film is bookended by needless exposition and a half-baked conclusion designed to assign to the film something that resembles a point, but in the end it’s really nothing more than excessive torture for the sake of torture; it’s shameless in its execution, calling to mind the abysmal Roland Joffe film Captivity. If “torture porn” were an actual thing, The Tortured is it. It doesn’t steer the narrative, it is the narrative. It’s hollow and pointless, with the ending doing nothing more than trying to make the film seem deeper than it really is. Which isn’t much.
1 out of 5