THE TORMENT aka THE POSSESSION OF DAVID O’REILLY (2010)

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THE TORMENT aka The Possession of David O’Reilly (2010)
Written and Directed by Andrew Cull

The Torment met my eyes one dark gloomy morning when I was on the look out for the usual new releases that hit the Monday shelves. The face of a man screaming and the tagline “They are Waiting” made me curious, but what sold it to me was the Based On True Events quote that always intrigues my horror heart. Maybe it is the Texas Chainsaw that makes me want to watch all horror films that carry this line, I mean the fact I thought that was true when I was a child and that a man like Leatherface is out there, somewhere in the wilderness made me more scared than the film itself. Looking back I should have asked Andrew Cull why he put that notion into his film? Did the events that happen to Alex and Kate really happen? Or was it a clever marketing ploy? But saying that, its best not to know, to even have the idea in your brain that all this happened is freaky enough and by knowing the truth will probably diminish the power that this British horror film has and believe me, it has an incredible amount of power. Looking back at the film for this review and I suppose I was not supposed to like this film has much as I did, the lack of press release and word of mouth, the at times, illogical actions of the cast that had me screaming at the TV in disgust. But for some strange reason, I woke up the morning after with this horror still in my mind. Its final image engraved in the back of my brain that I just could not shift!. Like its title the film had tormented me all day, and the only reason I can think why is because its so darn good!Borrowing some key elements from films like Them, Rec, and to a lesser extent Darkness Falls, to even Doctor Who (the flat itself and upstairs eerily looks like the one that the Doc shared with James Corden), The Torment is a delicious horror that leaves you thinking throughout. I have never seen an horror in which the wife and I debated so much through out the running time. Remarks like “It must be!” or “It can’t be!” rang through the four walls of my living room, for such a simple premise, the intrigue it builds up is quite frightening, and with mostly only a cast of three to carry the film, it saddens me that The Torment gets released with hardly a whimper but films like The Crazies gets money thrown at them and makes a bucket full when its not even that good!

Ok, rant over there, the film starts with memories of Them, a young couple Alex (Nicholas Shaw) and Kate (Zoe Richards) are having food and then sitting down to watch telly together. Half falling asleep on the couch, their plans to go to bed are ruined when at the the stroke of midnight there is a knock on their front door! Feeling at first an unease to answer, Alex finds his best friend David (Giles Anderson) on the outside in total disarray. It seems his long time girlfriend have has been cheating on him and would it be ok if he stayed the night! Kate goes to bed, the boys chatter, but when Alex decides to join his girlfriend in the land of sleep, its here that we witness something is not quite right in the head of David. His anxiety and looking out of the windows brings a sense of WTF, and when he starts to put salt on floor by the entry of the back door ( anyone who watches Supernatural will know what this signifies), you begin to wonder that maybe his visit is not as straight forward as he is saying. As day breaks and David asks to stay again for another night, it is soon apparent to the young couple that their best friend is suffering from some sort of breakdown. When the sun goes down and David starts screaming of something in the shadows, a haunting that has followed him from his own house to theirs, but why is it only David can see these things, the creatures that hide in the dark but scared of the light! With fear spreading through the bodies of all three, the anxiety brings chaos as the three friends begin to suspect their lives are in danger, but is it from the monsters that lay await, or from David himself, a man increasingly unstable and holding a knife in the middle of the dark!….

The “is it happening?!” appeal will keep you glued throughout. Its quite fantastic how director Andrew Cull managed to build an incredible sense of impending doom especially out of very little to work with. Cull who also wrote the screenplay, manages to create so much tension out of what is really a three They also riff on the camcorder phase that seems to be the selling point of horror these days. There are many occasions when it looks like what we are seeing is from the perceptive of someone holding a camera, but what the two directors have done, is put us in a POV shot of one the characters. So we have the jerky moments that made REC stand out, and we have other characters talk directly at us. In fact this way of filming brings an edge to the movie. When David first arrives and Alex invites him, the camera fails to follow them into the flat, it stays like a lurker and then slowly shows us the upstairs of the property, Its at this moment that the film was sold to me, I half expected a shadow or something, but the camera lingers on nothing, but the eerily music makes you know that something is not quite right!Of course with a plot of this nature, you can not help but find fault. My main criticism of the film is that it does one night too much. After what happens on the second night, which clearly shows that the mental state of David is not right at all, most people with any common sense would be phoning an ambulance on they very break of daylight. The fact that Alex and Kate just let him stay for what would no doubt be another night of fear, stretches the plausibility of the viewer, but then if you could swallow the fact that Micah stayed with Katie doing all the ghostly going on’s in Paranormal Activity then you can just manage to swallow the believability of Alex and Kate staying with David. It would have been better if all the events happened on the second night. We saw a glimpse of the madness of David on his first stay, and because so much happens on the second nightfall, it kind of wrecks the build up, but again to the credit of all involved they manage to put it back on track for the climatic reveal.

The introduction of a new upstairs tenant in the shape of Anna (Francesca Fowler) threatens to derail the plot, at the time it brings the intrigue overflow that is required but looking back, it seemed just an add on for the sake of it, but with some outstanding jump scenes, the Kate waking up in bed is great and the monster at the door made me jump out of my seat, The Torment delivers on all counts. What I loved as well that despite the flaws, when it came down to the last quarter, Kate does everything right. Her common sense makes you shout out “go girl go!” but then the film shows that sometimes doing what you think is right, comes at a price, with a final shot that really took my breath away!

So is the film about one mans breakdown in the light of his girlfriends cheating, or is there really something out there, in the shadows. You have to sit and watch and that is the fun of it all. A creditable British horror that deserves a look in for all fans of horror. The trouble is, I went in not knowing what to expect and I came away thrilled. Those reading this will hopefully go in expecting a fright fest and come away thinking “Hughesy is wrong on this one!” but I hope you find the love that Matt and I did, because this joins the ranks with the likes of Session 9, Cradle Will Fall, House Of The Devil and The Objective as one of the best offerings ever of straight to DVD horror, A quite wonderful trip into madness you would be mad to miss, a true modern classic in every word!

About Ross Hughes 1929 Articles
Since my mother sat me down at the age of five years of age and watched a little called Halloween, I have been hooked on horror. There is no other genre that gets me excited and takes me to the edge of entertainment. I watch everything from old, new, to cheap and blockbusters, but I promise all my readers that I will always give an honest opinion, and I hope whoever reads this review section, will find a film that they too can love as much as I do! Have fun reading, and please DO HAVE NIGHTMARES!!!!!!

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