Director -Joe Lieberman
Cast – Erika Christensen, Jesse Metcalfe, Bill Moseley, Bill Lippincott, Fulvio Cecere, Thomas Greenwood
Release Year – 2012
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This is a flick I had been meaning to watch for years, but I would constantly put it aside for other efforts. Originally filmed in 2007 but not released until 2010, I assumed the reshoots and the fact that it was shelved for a few years meant it would be a lackluster effort. Despite having Robert Lieberman (the man behind the incredible Fire in the Sky) as the film’s director, this turned out to be as bad as I hoped it wouldn’t be. The Tortured‘s engaging premise and brutal torture scenes are ruined by a terrible screenplay that is left dead in the water by mediocre direction.
The lives of Elise and Craig are forever turned upside down when their only son is kidnapped, tortured, and murdered. When the killer gets a sentence they feel is too lenient, they devise a plan to kidnap him and exact their own justice.
Vengeance is the name of the game with this story from Marek Posival. To this day, this remains his only written effort aside from a previous short film. You won’t be asking yourself why after you watch this effort. While I loved the overall premise of parents carrying out their own justice after the system fails them (but helps others via a plea deal), once you get into the bulk of the film you get to see the story’s potential swirl down the drain. The first act is solid, and unfortunately it is when the horror hits the screen at the 38-minute mark that things turn for the worst. Horror films are supposed to get better when the horror hits the screen, not worse. This begins with some very unconvincing dialogue for Elise and Craig. They are not badasses by any means, which I think is a good thing because it shows a greater divide between the people they used to be and the animals they are about to become, but the cheesiness of their lines is just too much. The torture scenes sound great on paper but were cheaply written and take the story nowhere. I will still give a nod to some great scenes involving needles and a gas mask, but the remaining torture scenes did little for the story. I feel like the film’s biggest fault though is its lackluster climax which will leave you scratching your head for several reasons. There is an interesting twist that I did not mind, but the details surrounding the twist make it a twist that has a negative impact on the overall story.
Director Robert Lieberman has a special place in my heart thanks to how much I enjoy Fire in the Sky, but he was unable to save this story. The acting performances he gets from Erika Christensen (Swimfan) and Jesse Metcalfe (John Tucker Must Die, Desperate Housewives) are terrible and I believe they were miscast here. This is especially the case with Metcalfe, who is unconvincing when he tries to be an intimidating figure. I did enjoy seeing Bill Moseley (The Devil’s Rejects) as the killer, but he wasn’t used very much. Even then, this is not one of Moseley’s better performances. The direction of the torture scenes is hit and miss. I enjoyed seeing full frontal direction that did not shy away from some gore porn, and the use of live action effects was a breathe of fresh air for horror films these days. Unfortunately, poor dialogue often accompanies these scenes, and the acting performances will leave the film’s best scenes as mediocre at best.
Overall, The Tortured is a flick I wanted to like, but a poor script and mediocre direction made it a film of wasted potential. You’ll see some good torture porn, but in the end everything around it will leave you wishing you’d devoted your time to a better effort.