What is the obsession this genre has with making the victims assholes? OK, it’s fun to see bad guys get what they deserve, but this guy is offed after we know him for 30 seconds. Maybe he had a bad day. Maybe he found out this morning he had cancer, maybe his family are the awful ones and we just happened to catch them in a civil moment. Yeah, he is a jerk, but did he really deserve to be murdered? You have to make a case in order for that to be cathartic, and it isn’t going to be made in 30 seconds for a character who isn’t even around long enough to have a name.
On the other hand, you can make someone likable and sympathetic pretty quickly. Then kill them.
So, his put-upon wife is murdered, he is murdered, and the killers are approaching the teenage daughter when we cut away. This prologue tells us that the killers are not making moral judgments, they just kill for no purpose. Well, that’s not exactly true, but that sets up a twist at the end.
We flash-forward to a much happier family driving to their cabin in the woods. Well, the young son is kind of jerky, but his father has just remarried after the death of his mother, so there is a solid pre-fab back-story for his jerky attitude. However, I’m kind of a jerk because I have to point how how bad this kid’s performance is.
They arrive at the cabin which turns out to a huge house. It all seems great until they see evidence that there have been squatters there — messy beds, dirty dishes. Hey, maybe I have squatters at my place, too.
The killers have taken the heads off of the kid’s stuffed animals and made masks of them. The masks and lack of motive have lead many people to make comparisons to The Strangers and You’re Next. These are pretty superficial points, and apply to a lot of movies. Yeah, there are some similarities, but Tormented is its own movie.
Really no major complaints. There is not much story to latch onto, or recap, or mock, or criticize. It is mostly an exercise in style, and moving the pieces around the board. It worked well enough for me. I like the callback for the motivation. The other twist just didn’t do much for me. More of a reveal, really, and there really was no substance set-up for it to knock down.
The kid was not very good, and Katherine Isabelle was only OK. She seems to have more presence when she has something to work with like lycanthropy or being a psycho medical student. As a Mom, she was kind of blah, and became irritating because half her dialogue seemed to be yelling for her husband, “Coryyyy!” This would still make a better drinking game than “Wallllllt!” on Lost, though, because you really need to already be drunk to sit through that.