A scene from TORMENTED, directed by Shimizu Takashi for Phantom Film.

Tormented (2011, Shimizu Takashi)

Near as I can recall, Tormented is my first modern Japanese horror movie. Somehow, I’m still familiar enough with the genre to know this one’s highly derivative. The writers throw in something else ominous every few minutes just to keep the picture moving–and it’s only eighty minutes so they clearly didn’t have any initial story, just the idea of 3D scares.

Only, there aren’t any scares. Not even the giant rabbit (on loan from the States and Donnie Darko) can be chilling. Why? Because Tormented looks like something a bunch of kids shot on one of their dads’ camcorders in 1998. If one were being polite, he or she could call Christopher Doyle’s photography amateurish. Incompetent is a better word, however. It’s a tragedy, actually, given how well Doyle used to shoot film.

Director Shimizu doesn’t do the film any favors either. He tries for subtle visual scares and fails. He tries for 3D wonderment and fails. He doesn’t have a single decent shot; adequate composition doesn’t rely on lighting. Doyle’s responsible for Tormented looking flat and lifeless. Shimizu could at least get a good angle in occasionally.

Oh, I forgot about the mute sister. She’s the protagonist (or at least narrator–but she’s mute, see how uncanny it is!), though she shares that focus with her little brother. Mitsushima Hikari plays the sister. She’s weak, but vaguely okay. Shibuya Takeru is terrible as the kid.

Kagawa Teruyuki plays the dad. He’s surprisingly okay.

Tormented’s an awful picture.



Directed by Shimizu Takashi; written by Hayashi Sôtarô, Hosaka Daisuke and Shimizu; director of photography, Christopher Doyle; music by Kawai Kenji; production designer, Ikeya Noriyoshi; produced by Ogura Satoru and Tanishima Masayuki; released by Phantom Film.

Starring Mitsushima Hikari (Kiriko), Shibuya Takeru (Daigo) and Kagawa Teruyuki (Dad).


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