Can you believe that? What’s he supposed to do, you tell a teacher and they tell the bullies off and that gives them an excuse to come after you. You tell your parents and they just say stand up for yourself. Darren couldn’t stand up for himself

Year Released : 2009poster_tormented_poster2
Director : Stephen Prentice
Cast : Alex Pettyfer, Tuppence Middleton, April Pearson, Calvin Dean, Tom Hopper and Dimitri Leonidas

I mentioned in a previous review that I used to work in a cinema and one of the perks of doing so was that I could watch films for free. During my 11 months working there I watched many films that I wouldn’t have considered seeing otherwise and Tormented was one of them. It’s not that it looked like a bad film (that despite it’s current rating of 5.2/10 on IMDB) but rather that it wasn’t my type of film.

It turned into a rather pleasant surprise and whilst it isn’t one of the best horror comedies that I have ever seen, I would certainly recommend it for a few hours entertainment.

Several of the cast have since gone on to bigger and better things, with Alex Pettyfer starring in several Hollywood films such as Beastly, I Am Number Four, Magic Mike and several others, whereas Tuppence Middleton is in the upcoming film adaptation of Jupiter Ascending.

Plot

Soon after the funeral of pupil Darren Mullet (Dean), school head-girl Justine (Middleton) starts dating the popular Alex (Leonidas) and finds herself suddenly thrust into the popular group in school. The group is mainly mixed towards the inclusion of Justine due to her previous “good-girl” reputation, especially Bradley (Pettyfer), the leader of the group.

Whilst everything seems normal at first, several students start getting tortured and killed by the ghost of Darren. Although they refuse to believe what is effectively right in front of them, the group continues to be troubled by Darren’s ghost and after initially not understanding why this group has been targeted, Justine soon discovers that the group were actually responsible for his death after bullying him for several months, with the main aspect of the bullying coming from his attraction to Justine.

Justine must choose between leaving her new group to their fate or helping them.

tormented-picture

So why do I like it when most don’t

Well for me it’s very different from the American style school based horror films, such as “The Faculty” and any number of slasher flicks that are filled by identikit characters , each of these characters is actually written quite well. For example, Justine is written as a girl that you’re never entirely sure if you actually like her or not. Early on she is revealed to someone who tries to say the right thing, even if she literally has no idea what she’s talking about when she mourns Darren Mullet at his funeral before seconds legend being called the fact that she didn’t know who he was.

The casting for the role of Justine was tremendous as she is definitely upper-middle class and you definitely believe that Middleton would be an excellent candidate for not only her school’s head girl in real life, but also that she is generally viewed as a geek from the popular kids in school. I don’t mean that in a negative way at all, it was almost perfect casting for that role.

Bradley is also very well cast and after a false dawn with Stormbreaker in the mid-2000s, this film arguably restarted Alex Pettyfer’s career as his next two pictures were “I Am Number Four” and “Beastly”, were two relatively high budget films for their genres and both relatively enjoyable. Pettyfer is brilliant as Bradley, really showcasing that ego of the “big guy in school” that usually accompanies the most attractive men in the the school. He seemingly plays the role with ease and makes you route for a character who is portrayed as an antagonist. The charisma he brings to the role, even when saying something threatening, was actually refreshing to see.

Tormented-2009-Bullied

If you know British schools and the way that the social aspect works, it actually makes you look at tormented and realise that, ignoring the part about the ghost, the film is actually very realistic, although there is definitely a high level of stereotyping. For example, the character of Marcus, Bradley’s best friend, is stereotyped as the athletic but rather stupid

One of my favour aspects about the film that make it stand out are some of the hilarious death scenes. One in particular always makes me laugh and that’s the first one. Sophie, played by Georgia King (daughter of actor Jonathan Hyde of Titanic, Jumanji and many others) is the first main character to bite the dust when she thinks that a teenage boy is watching her get dressed, approaching him before realising it’s the ghost of Darren, falling into the pool and then the ghost proceeds to sit on her, not allowing her to move and eventually drowning. All the deaths are imaginative and really well put together considering the budget.

tormented-899054l

However, despite all of the above, the aspect I enjoyed most about the film is that as the film progresses you do actually stop feeling sorry for Darren, who is supposed to be an protagonist, and actually start wanting the antagonists to survive. It’s quite an interesting play and whilst at first Bradley the group are very easily to dislike, you soon find yourself routing for them and at the end you actually realise that Darren, despite what happened to him being a tragedy, it isn’t really until how the film ends that I realised when watching it that he was actually a very vindictive and twisted individual. It’s not many films that make you question who you should actually route for, the supposed protagonists or the obvious antagonists.

Despite all of it’s good attributes, there are a few negatives.

I appreciate that the film didn’t have a high budget, even by British film standards, but the ghost of Darren wasn’t even slightly convincing, nor scary. I know the film is a horror/comedy but even then it has to look realistic to become a believable film. One of the key successes to films like Ghostbusters, obviously ignoring the huge difference in budgets, is that their ghosts looked realistic, even the puppets. Darren, although played with gormless excellence by Calvin Dean, is just not convincing and even when you seen the posthumous clips of him being bullied, you never actually believe that the character would be capable or willing to go around killing people who bullied him.

There is also the problem with the sub-characters. Characters such as Nasser and his group of emo-stereotype characters aren’t developed at all, and Jason, Darren’s best friend before he died, is your stereotypical nerd. He is always whinging, complaining and has a definitely “the world is against me” attitude, and if anything it puts me off getting behind him as a character as well.

Tormented-2009-04

Summary

It’s certainly not a bad attempt at horror for a relatively young cast. There are many positives about the approvedfilm and it is genuinely enjoyable, afterall, where do you get to see someone try to subdue a ghost in the showers with a cricket bad? It’s never going to get any film of the year awards but I found it to be a pleasant movie experience.

With a rating of just 5.2/10 on IMDB (at the time of writing), it would be easy to be put off by this film but I would recommend hanging in there as this isn’t just your typical horror/comedy, the moral message of don’t bully people because you never know what might happen is excellent and very well portrayed.

I won’t make light of the fact it is clearly aimed at a younger audience (25 and under), but I thoroughly believe that you don’t have to be young to enjoy it.

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Comments
  1. […] Tormented – British horror about students who are killed off by the ghost of someone they bullied. […]

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  2. […] no-one actually puts in a bad step at any point, and it was fun seeing Georgia King again after her role as a teenage bully in Tormented. Nicholas Hoult, as the star, is arguably the person playing their role to their biggest […]

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  3. […] I have a strong affection for many British horror films, including 28 Days Later, The Cottage, Tormented, Severance and Creep, but alternatively there are some awful ones as well, Night of the Living Dead […]

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  4. […] It’s an anti-bullying film, something which I have only done once before, the British horror “Tormented”, and even then that was a rather loose anti-bullying […]

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