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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > The Tortured

MOVIE REVIEWS

THE TORTURED (2010)

Starring Erika Christensen, Jesse Metcalfe, Bill Lippincott, Bill Moseley, Fulvio Cecere,Thomas Greenwood, Stephen Park, Samantha Gutstadt, Zak Santiago,  and Chelah Horsdal.

Screenplay by Marek Posival.

Directed by Robert Leiberman.

Distributed by IFC Films.  78 minutes.  Not Rated.

 

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The Tortured

The Tortured has been bopping around in production limbo for years now.  It was originally supposed to be made in 2008 with Charlie Sheen as the title character - a pedophile murderer who is imprisoned by the parents of his victim.  Charlie bowed out (one of the more sensible things he had done during those few lost years) and two years later it was made with Desperate Housewives hunk Jesse Metcalfe and Traffic actress Erika Christensen playing the parents and with Bill Moseley coming in and taking the thankless title role.  Two years later, it's getting a cursory theatrical release before going to video.

Sadly, it is not worth the wait.

The Tortured actually feels much older than it is.  It is part of the dated torture-porn genre that was big at the turn of the century (Saw, Hostel), but has mostly faded away now.  And if the style is going to bring movies like this one, good riddance.

Of course, The Tortured wants to be torture porn with a conscience, if there is such a thing. 

However, if they wanted the audience to buy into it, they should have spent some time setting up the situation and creating interesting characters.  All of this is rushed to get to the money shots.

The child is kidnapped, killed and the murderer sentenced to jail in the first ten minutes or so.  We don't get any time to really feel for the situation other than the short-hand response that any child being killed is wrong.  Nor do we come to feel the parents' devastation because they are such blank slates we can't build up much empathy for them at all.

They feel like the killer is getting off way too easily because he is only sentenced to 25 years to life (apparently they don't know what happens to pedophiles in prison).  Therefore, they set up an elaborate scheme to kidnap and torture the man.  Metcalfe's character knows just how to torture the man without killing him, because is a doctor.  (Really? Before this is stated in the script, there was no hint of that, and he certainly doesn't act like a doctor.)

The breakout of prison comes off way too easily, and the rest of the film is spent watching them brutally abusing the guy, while periodically quickly discussing the moral ramifications of their actions.  Conveniently, both parents come down on both sides of the argument at different points due to plot point needs.  It almost felt like watching Mitt Romney debate himself. 

The problem is, eventually the film's heroes seem no less sociopathic than their prisoner.  It takes a lot to make you feel sympathy for a remorseless child-murderer, but The Tortured pulls off that awkward feat.  Problem is, I'm relatively certain that was not the filmmakers' intention.

Then comes a twist ending which would be actually semi-clever if it weren't so confusingly staged.  A final voice over seems to fly in the face of the reveal we just saw, making the viewer doubt whether or not what they think just happened is actually what happened.

Sadly, they probably won't care enough to give it that much thought.

Dave Strohler

Copyright 2012 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: May 11, 2012.

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Copyright 2012 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: May 11, 2012.

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