The Torment (2010)

The Torment (a.k.a. The Posession Of David O’Reilly) is a decent British horror film. It is well acted, directed and written and features some genuinely terrifying moments. Occasionally it can drag and too much is revealed, but overall it’s an incredibly watchable, scary piece of work.

David O’Reilly (Giles Alderson) needs somewhere to stay. His girlfriend Sarah is cheating on him and he’s in desperate need of a friend. Alex (Nicholas Shaw), his mate of over ten years, invites David to stay with him and his girlfriend, Kate (Zoe Richards). David appears unsurprisingly distraught, but Alex and Kate quickly realize his distress is less to do with his relationship troubles and more to do with something that’s following him. More than one something, in fact, and something David claims is desperate to get inside the house and do horrific things to the inhabitants. As David’s mental state rapidly deteriorates, Alex and Kate quickly realize they’re in an incredibly dangerous situation, either from David himself or from something altogether less human…

The Torment is not startlingly original, but it’s not trying to be. It’s a character-driven horror piece that claws its way towards an inevitable conclusion, but with such intensity and enough ambiguity to keep you interested throughout. Are the creatures real? Is it all in David’s head? What the hell is that in the garden?! The Torment can be very scary at times, and this is thanks to the smart direction from Andrew Cull and Steve Isles and the excellent sound design from Vanesa Lorena Tate – turn off the lights, crank up the volume and prepare to be scared.

Giles Alderson’s portrayal of David O’Reilly is a brave one, showing a man on the cusp of exhaustion, despair and potential lunacy. It’s rare to see a male lead having to break himself emotionally as much as Alderson does, and David is almost comical in his mania at times, but Alderson gives a realistically haunted performance throughout that is both gutting and terrifying. All four actors do a sterling job of creating believable and likeable characters, which is incredibly rare in a horror movie.

The beautiful Francesca Fowler gives an excellent performance as pregnant neighbour Anna, and despite having a very small role she provides a loveable, haunting and utterly believable performance. It is Zoe Richards and Nicholas Shaw, however, that sew the film together as the beleaguered Kate and Alex, acting as the skeptical characters the audience can relate to. Zoe Richards is especially likeable and doesn’t irritate or amuse as the disbeliever, but instead gives an understated, smart performance – again a rarity in any horror film.

Although a lot is right with The Torment, there are also a few problems. Occasionally a scene can drag, is too dark and can be confusing. There’s also another “less is more” lesson to be learned here, and a tragic one. The demons David believes are coming to kill him are shadows, noises, figures in the dark – and this works fantastically well – but they’re also ripped-flesh Thing-esque monstrosities full of teeth and malice. These creations are fantastically imagined and brilliantly made, but their presence is tragically unnecessary, and seeing them so clearly detracts rather than captivates.

The Torment is a solid, scary, well created horror film. It doesn’t ooze with originality and would’ve benefited from being more subtle, but these are minor quibbles. It is well acted, directed and scripted, with a sound design that excels. This is a quality little British horror film and well worth a watch. In the dark. With the sound cranked up to eleven.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

One Comment on “The Torment”

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