With a title like Torment, you're probably expecting some hyper-brutal, bad-ass combination of Saw, Hostel, and that one awesome French slasher flick you can't pronounce... but nope! Aside from a few cool moments of blood-soaked lunacy at the beginning and the end, director Jordan Barker is more interested in some psychological torment. Just a simple "home invasion" story with some pretty cool slasher flick DNA, Torment might be better off called Suspense.
But that's not a title that would entice many horror freaks. Torment it is.
Plot-wise, we've got several threads you probably now by now:
A) A prologue in which a family is hacked up by a lunatic.
B) A young family arrives at their old home to help get over a recent tragedy.
C) After a small amount of legitimately decent character development, point A meets point B in a very unpleasant fashion.
But what Torment lacks in scintillating plot originality it makes up for in solid performances (Robin Dunne and Katherine Isabelle provide strong work, plus Stephen McHattie pops up for a few scenes, and he's always the man), a professional sheen, and -- most importantly -- a fast-moving and consistently well-edited narrative that moves forward so expeditiously you'll barely mind dealing with some familiar stuff. If a home invasion/slasher story can be called "enjoyably old-fashioned," then this flick certainly qualifies.
Not everything in Torment is entirely predictable (the killer's backstory is oddly interesting and craftily presented), but even when you're dealing with familiar scenes involving locked doors, empty hallways, temporary hiding places, and malevolent intruders -- the flick simply looks good, moves well, and seems slightly more interested in sustaining real suspense than in doling out pointless gore. Ms. Isabelle (last seen in American Mary) makes for a firm and feisty heroine, which certainly helps, but a lot of the praise is due to Barker and editor Stephen Philipson for keeping Torment quick, quiet, creepy, and admirably suspenseful.
Bonus points for managing to infuse some amusing "masked killer slasher flick" DNA into a fairly standard tale of isolated home invasion, too. I don't even mind that the final moments of Torment all but beg for the franchise treatment. Keep the sequel this slick and simple and I'll be happy to check it out.