Too pedestrian to be effective

by Nav Qateel

Jordan Barker’s horror-thriller Torment tells the story of the Morgan family, and how they find themselves in a nightmare scenario, as their house is taken over by a small group of murderous masked loons. Cory Morgan lost his wife a while back and he’s just married Sarah, giving 7-year-old Liam a new mother. Hoping to have his reluctant son Liam get along with Sarah, Cory moves them into his little-used summer home out in the sticks. Upon arrival, they find signs the house has been broken into so they call in the sheriff–who reassures the couple it’s a one-off event. That night Liam goes missing and the couple begin a night of hell thanks to a group of unknown intruders.

Katharine Isabelle plays Sarah, a newlywed trying hard to get along with her husband’s son, but Liam is making it very difficult. Sarah is a likeable character, and she eventually gets a chance to prove herself as she fights for her new family’s survival. I’ve been a fan of Katharine Isabelle since seeing her in Gingersnaps, and more recently in the wonderfully bloody American Mary. Robin Dunne plays Cory, a dad who wants his son and new wife to be happy. He’s clearly frustrated as Liam isn’t giving Sarah a chance, as demonstrated when Sarah sits in his dead mother’s chair which causes Liam to get angry with Sarah. Cory’s love for Liam is put to the test, during a night that sees him tortured.

Directed by
Jordan Barker
Robin Dunne, Katharine Isabelle, Peter DaCunha, Stephen McHattie
VOD Release Date
10 June 2014
Nav’s Grade: C

There’s lots to like about Torment but sadly the film is too derivative to be taken as a serious addition to the genre. If you’ve seen You’re Next then you’ll spend almost the entire film comparing Torment against it, and no one could blame you as both are so similar. The masks the home-invaders wear here have been fashioned from Liam’s stuffed animal collection, but they weren’t quite as effective as one would have hoped.

During the first act when we only caught glimpses of the intruders, the feeling of dread they induced was pretty convincing. Yet as the film progressed and the hows and whys were eventually revealed, they finally felt almost cartoonish and silly, and it was a bit of a struggle to continue to take them seriously–even while they were stabbing and torturing. In fact, I found the plot hard to swallow once we found out what they were up to.

Playing the sheriff who’s called out to check on the family, was the ever-reliable Stephen McHattie, making one of his many all-too-brief movie appearances. There was also plenty of other talent on display in Torment as all the actors’ put on a great show, making the most of the material they had to work with. Isabelle is always an absolute pleasure to watch, like when the actress recently played Margot Verger during the second season of Hannibal. Isabelle has performed strong female lead characters on a number of occasions, and this character is yet another example of why I’m a fan. Of special note was Peter DaCunha, who appears to have talent in abundance–and I expect great things from this young actor.

Jordan Barker handled this low-budget effort as well as could be expected, but the film was simply too pedestrian to have much of an effect on genre fans, as I’m sure they’ll have seen it all before. It’s certainly worth seeing once but it just isn’t one to go out of your way for.