Director – Jon Wright
Cast – Tuppence Middleton, Dimitri Leonidas, Alex Pettyfer, Calvin Dean, Olly Alexander, April Pearson, Georgia King, Mary Nighy, James Floyd
Release Year – 2009
Reviewed by John of the Dead
We have all come across teen horror films at one point or another here in the States, and by teen horror I REALLY mean horror films aimed at young teenagers, not just those using them as protagonists. I had however never before seen a UK teen horror flick and that is the reasoning behind my interest in giving this one a view, and while I honestly expected better this was not too bad of a watch in the end so long as you know what you are getting into.
After giving a funeral speech for Darren Mullet, fellow student she never knew who committed suicide, “head girl” (at her school) Justine begins dating Alexis and is brought into the “cool” group he mingles with. Soon after this those in the group begin receiving mysterious text messages from Darren’s old phone, and when they begin to die violent deaths Justine soon learns that the group had a heavy hand in Darren’s suicide…and he is back for revenge.
Sounds like the usual slasher storyline doesn’t it? Personally I love this storyline tend to always look forward to films that implement it, and for the most part Tormented got the story right aside from one huge difference that I will mention later on. Set in a high school setting we are exposed to the usual antics that we all went through “back in the day”, from gossip to fun parties to the usual bullying stemming from high school’s literal “class warfare” – and that is where the story’s message kicks in. The film seemed to have debuted during a time when bullying was being addressed heavily in the United Kingdom, and writer Stephen Prentice addressed that heavily by giving us the tale of the bullier exacting his revenge on the bullies, bullies who definitely took their “harmless fun” way too far. It does not take long before the kills begin to hit the screen and the popular group of kids begins to dwindle in numbers, and Justine soon learns not only of the atrocities committed by her new boyfriend but that she also inadvertently had a hand in Darren’s troubles as well. The rest of the film focuses on the remaining group members trying to find who the killer is, and that is when we are exposed to something that caught me off guard regarding this storyline…the killer is Darren. Normally when we get this storyline it builds up to a shocking revelation in which the killer is someone exacting vengeance in the name of the person killed, not the actual person killed doing the killing. I did not have a problem with this by any means, and in fact it upped the enjoyment of the group getting what they deserved given the justice was exacted by the victim himself, it just threw me for a loop is all – especially when the revelation came about pretty early on in the film.
Director Jon Wright did a fine job shooting this piece, giving us great visuals and executing the fun atmosphere very well, and much to my surprise he managed to deliver decent horror as well. The acting performances from all involved were positive, and although I did find the execution of Darren to be a bit silly. There is definitely a strong “teen” feel to this piece, which is why I emphasize that if you do intend to watch this film that you keep in mind the type of flick this is – one that is meant to possibly scare 13 year olds, not adults. What did surprise me though was how graphic the kills were towards the end of the piece. I applaud writer Stephen Prentice for slowly upping the ante of the kills written into the film, and Jon Wright managed to consistently increase the carnage and gore involved in each piece until the very end when where we were given many enjoyable and memorable kills, with the pencil-in-nose kill being my favorite.
Overall, Tormented is a decent teen horror film that despite definitely feeling like a teen flick managed to keep my attention and garner a mostly-positive rating thanks to good direction and the increased carnage of the kills involved. Had it not been for the gore and creative kills this piece would have most likely faltered, but if you watch it for what it is there is a chance you may find a bit of joy in this one as I did.