Tormented


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"OY OY! "

June 2nd, 2010

A British horror film for the Skins generation. Erm, not exactly a description that would actually encourage me to sit through this film to be honest. Horror has always been a niche genre but it seems, before even watching this film they were trying to alienate as many different groups as possible. Very few British films are actually worth sitting through as of late and the Skins TV series is not something that really interests me but this film had great reviews. At least that's what the poster had led me to believe. By the end of this flick I really had been tormented.

One of the reasons this is compared to the Skins E4 show is that it shares some of the same cast from the original series (every few seasons a new cast is introduced). I have seen Skins as my sister is a fan but it was never to my liking, the characters behave in such a depraved manner that shows our younger society as nothing more than barbaric. Even so the earlier seasons had a more comedic slant to them than the gritty realism the show now portrays and I expected this film to be closer to that (it's also billed as a comedy). In the end I suppose it was.

The film starts off with our main character, Justine (Tuppence Middleton), being dragged off by the police in front of the pupils at her school. We then rewind to 5 days earlier. I don't know if it is just me but I am becoming tired by this tactic in films and television shows, it occurs so often it's becoming tedious. When films do this I am left to believe that the next hour or so is going to be filled with a lot of bland dialogue and not much of note. The only reason most do this is to show an event scene that the rest of the film is other wise lacking (in an attempt to draw the audience in), now I see this style as more of a warning.

The next 20 minutes introduces us to the school populace who are at the funeral of fellow student Mullet (committed suicide recently). Each group of kids represent a specific stereotype, the popular kids, the Goths, the nerds and so on. I had to check that this was actually an English film as this type of segregation only usually appears in American high school fare.

Despite being at the student's funeral most have no clue who he is (probably a way to get out of lessons) except his best friend who is annoyed at the rest for not really caring. Mullet's reasons for killing himself are revealed as the movie progresses with each of the cast being murdered one by one. Has Mullet returned from the grave to seek his revenge or is someone else a bit miffed about something?

This is standard slasher fare and yet the way the film is put together it never actually feels like a horror film. There are deaths a plenty (and pretty gruesome too) but the focus is never really on them, eliminating scares for daily school antics. This really feels like an extended episode of Skins with a few deaths sprinkled in. The characters, in keeping with this new antisocial behaviour that the kids are so down with today, make them absolutely dislikeable. I must say that the entire cast relish their roles and give great performances whether I like them or not.

The music never creates an atmosphere due to its constant use of contemporary tunes that the age group this is aimed at are sure to like. When the scary tones hit they don't match with what just preceded it and the music becomes more laughable than ominous.

As mentioned before this is school drama fare for a large portion of the film with our main character Justine integrating herself into the popular group of kids (she's one of the geek squad). Eventually after much sexual promiscuity she discovers that her new friends were indirectly responsible for the death of student Mullet. Their constant bullying at school and via online sources gave Mullet no escape but that of suicide.

The first half of the film focuses on this rather dark subject and was actually very well handled. I liked the idea that the bullies were now the ones being threatened. Sure the murder of their characters is a bit extreme but it sends a powerful message to the viewer that bullying is wrong. Only they cock this up by the time the end credits roll.

Now the main problem I had was with the tone of the film and its schizophrenic flip flop from one style to another. From this point on I will be delving into SPOILER territory so if you want to see the final verdict skip to the last paragraph. Halfway through the film the genre suddenly shifts from a murder mystery to a supernatural slasher flick as it is revealed that the students are being stalked by the ghost of Mullet out for revenge. This was fine but once Mullet was physically introduced he was portrayed as a far more malevolent being that took the edge off the whole bullying subject matter.

Aside from the main set of bullies, Mullet also attacks those indirectly involved such as a student who created a website that humiliated him. The student in question is shown to have been forced into it by other characters thus being the subject of bullying himself – was it fair to show him suffering? (he may not have been killed but he lost his hearing). Along with this his best friend who appeared as a suspect earlier is also murdered for no apparent reason. How are we supposed to feel sympathetic to a character that kills indiscriminately?

When we reach the final act the surviving characters have already seen the error of their ways without the threat of death so the final conclusion to the film is too harsh demeaning the lessons learned. SUPER SPOILER here, the end of the film has every character murdered except Justine who is arrested for the crimes. Her only fault was that she didn't know who Mullet was. Mullet effectively ends the movie as a bully.

The one thing that really does work is the humour and unfortunately even that jars with the overall tone of the film. As the tale delves into dark territory the humour elevates things to a more light-hearted nature which helps muddle the message of the film. Even so I did chuckle a couple of times especially during a crass scene where two police officers find the bodies of two teenagers. "Found a full condom sir", "at least he got his rocks off", "No sir, full of his dick". There's even a post credit scene which is played for laughs where Mullet goes after his PE coach but after such a sadistic ending I didn't want to see more of his mug.

Before we reach my conclusion I would like to address all the rave reviews this film gained. I get the feeling from reading a few of them that they were not giving their opinion of the film but rather what they thought the target audience would like. I respect that sometimes a film is not aimed at your age group but I feel I needed to give a true representation of what I experienced not the experience my sister would have (being a fan of Skins).

When the film ended I was sad that I had just wasted two hours then I realised the film's only an hour and twenty minutes. Time really is relative. The film is not a complete shambles and I'm sure the Skins generation will love it but for someone who isn't a fan of the show there's not much else here. Tormented is about to start screening on Sky Movies (no wonder they gave it a great review) and I'd love to know what other people think of this film. 3/10

Trivia
Calvin Dean and Georgia King appeared in 'The Duchess' which two of the characters can be seen watching.
Calvin Dean's make up took 3 hours each day.
Made for under £1 million.

Director: Jon Wright
Screenplay: Stephen Prentice
Release: 2009
Rating: 18
Starring: Alex Pettyfer, April Pearson, Calvin Dean, Dimitri Leonidas, Tuppence Middleton


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