The Tortured is brought to us by Twisted Pictures. It’s familiar territory for the production company that brought us such genre fare as Saw. I’ve been a fan of films like Repo: The Genetic Opera, but I wasn’t pleased with The Tortured.
The story goes something like this: A pervert abducts the only son of Yuppie couple Elise and Craig Landry. The pervert kills the defenseless young boy. The man is caught, but his punishment is something the Landrys perceive as a less than just sentence. This leaves the Landry’s grief stricken and enraged. The couple then decides to seek a little vigilante justice. They turn the tables on their son’s murderer and give him a taste of his own tomfoolery.
There are a lot of things about The Tortured that don’t work. For example, this is not Erika Christensen at her best. She has turned in good performances in films like Traffic, but this is not one of them. Losing a child is probably the worst fate imaginable, but Christensen over sells the performance, every step of the way. She’s not solely to blame. The script is weak and the direction is poor, but she just makes it worse. She is too much to take as the doting mother and even worse as she portrays a grieving matriarch. It’s not quite unbearable, but it’s hard to swallow.
Jesse Metcalfe’s performance isn’t great, either. His portrayal of Craig Landry is better than Christensen’s performance, but nothing to rejoice over.
As I mentioned previously, the script isn’t well written. I’m disappointed with Marek Posival’s feature screenwriting debut. The story was undoubtedly inspired by The Last House on the Left. And that isn’t a bad thing. Everyone has to draw inspiration somewhere. However, I was appalled to see that the male lead in The Tortured was a physician. It was as though Posival just lifted major plot points and characters directly out of The Last House on the Left. Of course, The Tortured has a few differences that keep it from playing out like a direct rip-off of its much superior muse piece, but, it borders dangerously close to plot infringement.
What really did the film in was the excessive and overly zealous nature of the Landry’s retaliation. It plays out quite sickeningly. In films like The Last House on the Left, the performances are realistic enough that the audience sees the family as justified in their actions. In The Tortured, the weak performances fail to convince the viewer of the grief the couple is going through and make it impossible to stomach what they put their son’s killer through. The Landrys come off as a couple of kill happy psychopaths. Their zest for torture comes straight out of left field. One moment, they are grieving, and the next they have kidnapped and begun to persecute their son’s killer in the worst ways imaginible.
The Landry’s decision to kidnap and torture the child murderer is made even more implausible by the fact that their victim is sentenced to 25 years to life. It’s not as if he went free on a technicality and there’s no self defense aspect like there was in Last House. It’s really just torture for the sake of torture. Their revenge is so brutal and mean spirited that I couldn’t get behind their actions. Normal people don’t behave this way. These are not average citizens who have been pushed to their limit and snapped, like the protagonists in films such as I Spit on Your Grave (1978) or Mother’s Day (1980). These are two people who would have to have been sick as hell before their son was taken from them. But, the film never addresses that, it just commands the audience to accept The Landry’s sick revenge as justified.
The scene where the Landry’s have sex whilst their prisoner suffers downstairs is horrifying. It was as if they were, quite literally, getting off on their sick behavior.
The ending really derailed an already bad film. I’ll avoid giving away any of the details, but suffice to say, it rendered the preceding 80 minutes quite pointless.
The Tortured is now available via VOD, but don’t bother. If you’re in the mood for revenge, check out a classic like The Last House on the Left (1972), Mother’s Day (1980), or I Spit on Your Grave (1978).