Jordan Barker hits the home invasion genre with his thriller Torment, a film about a newlywed couple trying to survive the night when a sadistic cult-like family takes their little boy. Led by American Mary‘s Katharine Isabelle and Robin Dunne, Torment walks an all too familiar path that never quite sets itself apart other films in the genre. It plays it safe and the result is a by-the-numbers horror flick that we’ve seen time and time again.
It has a promising start with a little early dose of terror as we see a family brutally murdered by the hands of an unknown killer, creating the stage for the rest of the film. Then we’re quickly introduced to newlywed couple Cory and Sarah Morgan—played by the wonderful Katharine Isabelle and Robin Dunne—who have a compelling backstory as it becomes immediately clear that Cory’s son, Liam, does not except Sarah as his new mother since the passing of his real mom. The horror genre can have a hard time giving us one character that we legitimately care about let alone three; so for that Torment gets it right.
It doesn’t take long for the film to start moving its legs because once the family returns to their home, they quickly find out that they have some unexpected visitors waiting. After Liam goes missing it becomes a mad scramble to not only find him, but to survive the night. I liked how the film gets straight to the point, which is a must for any film that barely hits the 80-minute mark. But despite the great pacing and good character work, Torment quickly turns into a generic home invasion thriller, complete with mysterious animal mask-wearing killers.
And what I mean by generic is that the film goes through all the horror movie motions—you have your electricity going out, phones become useless and of course the first thing they do is split up. Right. I get it, characters in horror movies have to make stupid decisions otherwise we wouldn’t have much of a horror movie to begin with, but after a while it just becomes eye-rolling. You’re being terrorized by a bunch of killers who for all you know just murdered your 7-year-old son and the first thing you do is leave your new wife by herself in the very house that the killers are going stab-happy? I’m sorry but I don’t buy that for a second. So once they’re split up they both find themselves in their very own special shit storm all thanks to genius idea of splitting up. We see it all the time in the genre and unfortunately Torment gets sucked right into its cliche.
Unfortunately, Torment feels like a missed opportunity that rather than give us something new, it instead delivers a movie that we’ve already seen. I was really rooting for this one, you guys. It looks great, moves along quickly and features some solid performances; it just never steps away from all the same ol’ horror norms that we’ve already seen dozens of times in the genre. It’s not a bad movie, it’s just not a very good one either.