Monday, August 5, 2013

Mindless Movie Monday: The Tortured (2010) - Please, Let It End...

I love revenge films just as much as the next guy, but when revenge turns into these "torture-porn"-type of films with little to no plot, I just have to sigh and say stop. Please. These movies have really been coming out of the woodwork these last ten years or so and to be honest, they can cease to exist any time now. From the producers of Saw (of course), The Tortured is directed by Robert Lieberman and clocks in at just under eighty minutes, so at least we don't have to be tortured any longer than that. 

Now don't get me wrong, I love Bill Moseley to death. But great actors do not always save bad motion pictures (i.e. Johnny Depp's last ten films) and that's precisely what I'm talking about here. Even the acting of the two other main characters played by Erika Christensen and Jesse Metcalfe wasn't awful, but the material was so utterly clichéd and the ending so baffling that it could hardly make up for it.

They play Elise and Craig Landry, a young professional couple whose lives change drastically one day when, while on Craig's watch, their young son is kidnapped from right under his nose. When Craig slips into the house for just a moment, a crazed kidnapper flashes into the yard and grabs Benjamin and runs to his van, throwing the child in and tearing off.  I must admit those first twenty minutes or so of the film were gut-wrenching. It's hard to imagine anything worse than your child being kidnapped. Well, except what happens next.

Benjamin is tortured and killed, and though we don't really see the body, the shock of the police officer that finds the child, as well as the horrific looks of the parents when they come to identify the body is proof enough that they are dealing with one sick puppy. Yes, that is the worst possible thing that anyone would ever experience.

Naturally the parents are beyond distraught. Fair enough. And though I don't have children, I can only assume you would want to absolutely decimate someone who murdered your child. I feel that way about my cat for pete's sake, so I'm sure the revenge factor would top that by about a hundred times.  When John Kozlowski (Moseley) is given only 25 years to life for the murder, it goes without saying that Benjamin's parents are understandably upset.

Except they aren't just upset.  They are driven.  Elise in particular becomes obsessed with getting vengeance for the death of their child. The couple devises a scheme to abduct Kozlowski from a van transporting him to a federal prison.  Yes, that is as ridiculous and unrealistic as it sounds. The idea doesn't work quite as well as they hope, with a car accident en route throwing a bit of a wrench in their plan. But they are able to make off with their target and ultimately they serve up some nasty revenge in the basement of an abandoned house out in the middle of nowhere.

The film quickly moves into Saw territory, with the Landry's serving up some private justice of their own with various gruesome and painful tortures. 

Conveniently, Craig is a doctor, so he's able to bring Kozlowski to the brink of death and back several times - just to make sure he gets his due.

The actual torture isn't really anything you haven't seen before, and once Elise starts the obligatory regret and begins to think twice about whether or not this is the right thing to do, the film's already went off the rails and there was no coming back.

There is a twist (isn't there always) that pretty much anyone could see coming, and yet - it was entirely too confusing.  Just when you think you've got it figured out, it becomes completely convoluted to the point of being absurd.

Sometimes I wonder how I get stuck watching these kinds of films - I'm pretty sure it's all Netflix's fault with their famous "recommended for you" tactics. And I fall for it every damn time.
If the director was trying to get people to talk about his film, I guess it worked. Just not in a positive way, if I'm being honest.

In all, The Tortured isn't completely awful, it's just nothing you haven't seen before. Metcalfe and Christensen both do an able job here - in particular Christensen playing the grieving mother - but the script just can't save the movie, and I really wish I could get those eighty minutes back.

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