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Tormented


Disappointed.

Rod Lott March 25th, 2013

Grudge guru Takashi Shimizu isn’t at a career apex. His 2009 film, The Shock Labyrinth, was a dud. His latest American effort, the airline ghost story 7500, was supposed to come out in theaters last summer, but got pushed to next month. So I hoped Tormented, a 2011 J-horror effort fresh to Blu-ray on these shores, might mark a return to form.

tormented3d

Instead, I got what amounts to a feature-length commercial for said Shock Labyrinth.

Also in 3-D (if you have the proper player), Tormented opens with 10-year-old Daigo (Takeru Shibuya, who acts primarily by blinking) putting a gravely injured rabbit out of its misery, much to the horror of his fellow classmates and his mute older sister, Kiriko (Hikari Mitsushima, Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai), a school librarian. Bullied for that act, Daigo withdraws from school soon after. His parents don’t mind because they’re not around — one literally, one figuratively; Kiriko is his virtual mother.

One day, she takes him to a 3-D movie: The Shock Labyrinth, in fact. At a point where a stuffed rabbit appears to emerge from the screen, Daigo reaches out and somehow catches it. He takes the bunny home, only for it to grow giant, come to life and pull him into a fantasy world. (Luckily, the animal is still cute; we’re not talking a Donnie Darko rabbit here.)

This alternate-reality trip repeats itself a couple of times. A twist arrives at the 50-minute mark after Daigo gets pulled into The Shock Labyrinth, but it hardly registers as a shock. The story has unfolded in such a halfhearted fashion up to this point that any investment on the viewer’s part long has waned. What happens suddenly isn’t going to regain goodwill, as it’s kind of a foregone conclusion. Besides, check out that guy on the left trying to restrain Kiriko: He’s laughing! Mind you, humor is not what Shimizu is going for.

I understand (now, because it’s not mentioned on the cover) that Tormented is intended as some sort of companion piece to The Shock Labyrinth. To me, it didn’t do enough to distinguish itself as worth standing on its own, so if you disliked the previous film, you’re apt to feel chilly toward this semi-sequel.  —Rod Lott

Hey! Read This:
Donnie Darko: 10th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray review  
Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai Blu-ray review      
Ju-on: White Ghost / Black Ghost DVD review      
The Shock Labyrinth Blu-ray review     

 
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