The Tortured: DVD & Blu-ray

Sunday, 17 October 2010 11:45

How far would you be prepared to go if someone abducted, tortured and ultimately murdered your child, and then received a soft sentence? That is the question examined by this new horror movie from the producers of the “Saw” series. Happily married couple Elise (Erika Christensen – Parenthood, “Swimfan”) and Craig (Jesse Metcalfe – Desperate Housewives, “John Tucker Must Die”) are the victims who must decide.

Six-year-old Ben (Thomas Greenwood) is snatched by Kozlowski (Bill Moseley – “Grindhouse”, “House of 1000 Corpses”) when Craig turns his back for two minutes. By the time the kidnapper is tracked down, it is too late for Ben and it is evident that he suffered before his death. In court, the judge sentences Kozlowski to 25 years to life, with the possibility of parole in ten, infuriating the parents and driving them to despair. A pitch-black cloud descends over their relationship as acrimonious accusations fly. Elise moves out and Craig contemplates suicide. In time they are drawn back together and formulate a desperate vigilante plan to capture Kozlowski during his transfer to prison, and put him through physical and mental hell before executing him.

The Tortured released on DVD and Blu-rayThey succeed in swiping the murderer from under the authorities’ noses, but once Kozlowski is in their custody, will they have the stomachs to carry through with their shocking operation?

Director Robert Lieberman (“Fire in the Sky”, “Earthsea”) and his cast do an excellent job trying to convince us that this regular middle-class couple would resort to such terrible measures to get the justice they demand. Many other films covering this sort of subject gloss over the motivations of their characters and get straight down to the action, but thankfully that is not the case here.

We see Craig and Elise getting put through the emotional grinder as they struggle to come to terms firstly with their son’s disappearance, then with his death and finally the sentence they perceive as far too light for the crime committed. The driving force behind their thirst for revenge is clear.

Through a mixture of visual and audio flashbacks and echoes, we witness the delight and happiness experienced whilst being with their beloved son, seeing him being born and growing up to be a bright, bouncy young boy. After the tragic events, their garden swings are lifeless, and Ben’s favourite toys gather dust. The couple’s emotions pass from shock, sadness, despair, fury and determination, visibly galvanising into a common goal after being at odds as to how to handle the terrible situation.

These scenes of human misery are difficult to watch, and the same goes for the torture they inflict on Kozlowski later on. Craig is a doctor, and he has the knowledge and equipment to keep their victim alive and conscious long enough to inflict untold physical and mental agony. Indeed, Craig has gone as far as to research torture techniques to make sure he achieves the best results.

The deeper the couple gets into their despicable activities, the more the audience naturally questions which side they sympathise with most, and the movie quite successfully stimulates our feelings and tests our moral values. The unexpected twist at the end heaps further questions into the mix to upset the balance.

I would recommend this film to horror and thriller fans who do not simply wish to see another round of “Saw”-style gore, but rather are seeking material with a more down-to-Earth plot and characters, and moral dilemmas you can probably associate with – at a stretch, at least. You will almost certainly find that the ethical questions stay with you far longer than the visual impact of the physical torture.

Both the DVD and Blu-ray versions come with a couple of short special features. The so-called “Interviews with cast and crew” are actually just a series of brief sound-bites from them in response to the question ‘How far would you go?’. The behind the scenes featurette is 10 minutes of more enlightening production clips and interviews. The DVD version offers 2.0 and 5.1 audio options, whereas the Blu-ray disc also has DTS audio.

“The Tortured” (2010) is out now on DVD and Blu-ray, courtesy of E1 Entertainment. The running time of the main feature is 81 minutes approx, certificate ‘18’ and the movie retails for £12.99 on DVD, £19.99 on Blu-ray, or less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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