Tormented

Tormented ★★★½

CHAINSAWNUKAH 2020: The Man Who Queue Too Much
Day: 1

I'll give Takashi Shimizu this much: he certainly believed in this one. The plot is so densely packed with eager symbolism, the angst is so palpable, and the 3-D visuals are so fussy that you really feel his confidence that he's onto something radiate out of the screen. Unfortunately he was most decidedly not onto something; this is a deeply, profoundly stupid plot with no recognizable link to any imaginable lived human experience, and so you may find it a little hard to invest as deeply in it as Shimizu does.

But that doesn't mean the movie doesn't have its charms, most notably in the sharp 3-D photography by Christopher Doyle (who's worked with Wong Kar-Wai, Jim Jarmusch, Zhang Yimou, Gus Van Sant, and Alejandro Jodorowsky, among others). Doyle is not entirely able overcome Shimizu's fetishistic love of cramped, dingy interiors, but for a few sequences*, particularly a surreal carnival and an impossibly long spiral staircase, the film looks fuckin' great, and the weird visuals alone are enough to make it worth a watch for the horror aficionado who has some tolerance for absurd plotting. Plus, there are not too many horror movies about giant rabbit mascots, so another one is always welcome.

On the rabbit scale of horror I'd place this as more scary than SPACE JAM but less scary than WATERSHIP DOWN.


*Doyle also tries something interesting by adding a filter of digital video-noise over the 3-D footage in a few sequences, which results in the odd effect of imposing a flat barrier between the viewer and the 3-D world behind it. I'm not sure quite what he was going for here, but it creates an odd, artificial sensation, highlighting the unbridgeable gap between the audience and the fictional characters in the movie by making the usually invisible demarcating boundary --the screen-- suddenly and ostentatiously visible. The filter thus becomes part of the image and yet distinct from it, operating on a completely different plain which exists only on a meta level, part of our experience of watching but not the experience of the characters.

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