The Tormenting (also named rather oddly as ‘Poignant’) is a supernatural horror movie by director Jaspreet Kaur and follows the haunting (and subsequent tormenting) of a group of people looking to buy an abandoned hospital, also the site of a violent crime, for use as a medical centre.
The plot sees Amy a medical researcher with ambitions to open her own health care facility. After visiting a property up for sale, she begins to experience tormenting supernatural visions of a young girl who experienced a horrific death. Amy’s life takes a turn when she begins to piece together glimpses of the girl’s last living moments, and starts to understand the spirit’s plea for help to cross over. Seeking a detective’s assistance, Amy becomes determined to seek justice for the girl’s death and bring her soul to peace—even at the risk of being perceived as insane by those close to her.
With a standard plot in place ‘The Tormenting’ treads familiar ground. I think just from the synopsis you will know if you are interested or not. These low budget indie ‘bump in the night’ horrors are pretty common so how does ‘The Tormenting’ stack up alongside its peers?
Well, the acting is pretty solid, but the story drifts from mildly intriguing to plain daft. The characters are believable enough, although they are somewhat generic, and the cast do their best carry the meandering story along with some conviction. As the cast are not teens there is something more mature about the performances which adds some integrity to the run of the mill mystery. The story is in summary, as you would expect: a ghost haunts a group of people, who in turn must solve the mystery of why the spirit is so restless, this takes the standard 90 minutes of screen time.
The films pace is problematic, with a midsection as stodgy as that of a sumo wrestler and indeed whilst it starts well enough, and has a final half an hour which sees exposition and reveals come at a relative lightnings pace, the film does not escape a rather dull 20-minute lag phase in its second act which risks losing your attention. Here the cracks in the plot and performance begin to show and perhaps the films largest issue I have with the film it at its most exposed here also: Its scares (or the lack there of).
Recent big budget releases show that there is still a rabid audience wanting to be scared, and that you don’t need to far too far from the traditional spectral elements to do so effectively. ‘The Tormenting’ seems to put so much of its efforts into everything except the scares, and as a result for a horror film it struggles to be anything but mediocre. It starts well enough, but it doesn’t go anywhere beyond dark shadows, figures lingering in the background and the occasional jump ghost face. At its worse there is some ridiculous CGI elements which kill the atmosphere completely including some iffy supernatural elements which don’t even fit in with the films themes (especially the final scene and one completely out there dream sequence). Shame really it had potential to some extent.
Overall ‘The Tormenting’ is a (just about) watchable affair, and should you decide to give it a go, once you start watching it you will likely stay until the end to see the mystery reach its conclusion, but a scary horror it is not.