31 Days of Hallowe’en, Day 21: Tormented (2011)

tormented 2011

I can only be amused by the fact that Day 21’s movie heavily featured a demonic, mechanically-shrieking bipedal rabbit, given that I have an irrational fear of the fluffy, nose-wrinkling little future fox shits.

tormented 2011

Japanese horror Tormented deserves credit for not only steering away from hair-horror, but subverting its oft-trodden tropes and imagery to mind-bending effect. The movie opens with a wordless scene of Gummo-level memorability: tiny schoolboy Daigo (Takeru Shibuya) sees a rabbit bleeding out in the playground. It’s suffering. He grabs a brick and bludgeons it out of its misery. It’s so brutal that blood splatters on his older teen sister, Kiriko (Hikari Mitushima).

tormented 2011

Shortly afterwards, Daigo is plagued by rule-bending, reality-skirting nightmares, all featuring a human-sized stuffed rabbit that is fucking terrifying. As the nightmares worsen, Kiriko is unsure of what to do, and cannot turn to their illustrator father who is too caught up in his latest work to give much of a shit.

tormented 2011

I’d rather not spoil, but what follows is a series of veers and turns through a vortex of storytelling (the spiral staircase imagery that repeats throughout the film is truly apt). If this had been a slow-burner, I might have felt a bit cheated, but the brisk pace, solid acting and beautifully baffling imagery rescue it from becoming an exercise in cinematic timewasting. Unpredictable to the last frame.

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