Tormented Review: The Skins Goes Hardcore

May 21, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Film Reviews

TORMENTED: On General Release Friday 22nd May 2009

Horror and comedy are two genres that are very hard to blend successfully.

Lean too much toward the horror and the funny moments won’t be funny. Lean too heavily on the comedy and the horror won’t have any impact. When it’s done well, it can be truly excellent (Shaun of the Dead) but when it’s done badly then you end up with a sorry, shambolic mess (Lesbian Vampire Killers).

Tormented does a fairly good job of bestriding the genre divide but is neither funny nor scary enough to be anything more than a throwaway slasher flick. It stars so many good looking and familiar teen cast members that it’s feels like a surreal dream where the entire cast of Skins all get murdered (eerily similar to a persistent day dream I keep having actually).

At a school attended funeral, squeaky clean head-girl Justine (lovely pouting newcomer Tuppence Middleton) is giving the standard eulogy about a boy no one can remember. After being asked out by pretty boy Alexis, she gains acceptance into the ruling school clique – all arrogant, sneering pretty boys and girls to a number. Turns out their relentless persecution of chubby asthmatic Darren Mullet led to his suicide and it’s not long before they start receiving text messages from beyond the grave.

That’s only the beginning, as they’re revisited by Darren’s vengeful ghost/zombie (teenage zombie James Corden-alike Calvin Dean) who proceeds to kill them in a series of increasingly grisly and gory ways using variety of school props. My my, is that a precariously placed and recently oiled guillotine? I wonder if we’ll see that used later on.

It’s for the most part a well written story with a good looking and decent cast. It’s just let down by not quite enough jokes and oddly being too gratuitous. Teenagers have sex, we get it; we don’t need it shoved in our faces every 13 minutes.

The first half is tightly plotted and well written; the tension is ratcheted up slowly and allowed to build and is genuinely gripping at times. But as soon as the first truly graphic killing happens, your ability to suspend disbelief is utterly shattered. You’re not longer scared by anything. Buckets of blood? Par for the course. Teenagers torn limb from limb? Yawn. And there’s nothing so gruesome that it ever truly horrifies; after it’s happened once, it completely loses its impact for the remaining 45 minutes.

It’s a brave attempt at combining horror and comedy but despite a great looking cast and a good script, it’s a diluted version of both genres. It does have a rather convincing anti-bullying message though – “bullying gets you torn apart by vengeful spectres from the underworld”.

Expect to see that on posters in classrooms all over Britain in 2009.

Jez Sands

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