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December 2010

The Tortured

cast: Erika Christensen, Jesse Metcalfe, Bill Lippincott, Bill Moseley, and Fulvio Cecere

director: Robert Lieberman

79 minutes (18) 2010
widescreen ratio 16:9
E1 DVD Region 2

RATING: 1/10
review by Jason D. Brawn

The Tortured

A happily married couple's life is totally ruined when their son is kidnapped and later found dead. Obsessed with revenge, the couple finally achieve their opportunity, but with a disastrous result. What can I say; this is a shameless rip-off of Saw (2004), and many Hostel clones, badly acted and badly written. I remember watching the film at this year's Film 4 Frightfest, where it failed to attract an audience of rabid horror fans desperate for the next big thing. Why did I pick to see this film again? It was an accident. I always forget bad films when I'm at those genre festivals.

This film is more suited for a made-for-TV movie with Patrick Duffy, instead of trying to replicate Daniel Grou's brilliant French-Canadian offering 7 Days. The Tortured is set in suburban USA, where middle-class couple Elise (Erika Christensen) and Craig (Jesse Metcalfe) live in a crime-free area, unaware that a child killer, by the name of John Kozlowski (Bill Moseley), has snatched their boy (Thomas Greenwood) as his latest subject. The couple then spend most of the first half of the film crying and swearing. This completely frustrated the hell out of me, and I wanted to press the fast-forward button.

But, once Kozlowski is caught and sentenced to serve 25 years to life, meaning he could go out on parole in 10 years, they decide that he needs proper justice, and rightly so. They kidnap, and later torture him, while they're hiding out in an abandoned farmhouse somewhere. But the film does end with a twist - something I guessed after the first 45 minutes, and anyone who is familiar with this kind of film would guess it too.

The couple look far too glamorous and so are less convincing, and Jesse Metcalfe (Desperate Housewives) overacts in every scene, making him terribly unsuitable for the role, and annoying. Visually, the film looks good but the performances and direction fail to salvage this offering. Made by Twisted Pictures, the same company behind the Saw franchise, it is a lazy cash-in take on their most profitable product, and - like Saw - the twist is explained through flashbacks. I doubt that a sequel will be in the works.



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