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No synopsis for Tormented 3D.
For more about Tormented 3D and the Tormented 3D Blu-ray release, see Tormented 3D Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on March 30, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Hikari Mitsushima, Takeru Shibuya, Teruyuki Kagawa
Director: Takashi Shimizu
» See full cast & crew
Tormented 3D Blu-ray Review
Truth in advertising.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, March 30, 2013
I evidently caused massive befuddlement in my review of The Perks of Being a Wallflower when I had the audacity to say the film reminded me in a certain way, rightly or wrongly, of Donnie Darko. I myself detailed the admitted weirdness of this comparison by listing a number of salient differences between the two films, mentioning the fact that among other things The Perks of Being a Wallflower did not feature a giant menacing bunny. And so for those who were vigorously scratching their heads over my inexplicable mash up of two disparate films, you're forewarned: I'm about to do it again, and once again Donnie Darko is going to be the culprit, though perhaps this time the comparison will be more readily comprehensible. Tormented is a 2011 Japanese horror offering from Takashi Shimizu, the driving force behind the Ju-On franchise which has matriculated to America as The Grudge . Shimizu is obviously a master at creating a spooky mood, even if his narrative skills are sometimes lacking nuance or even (dare I say it?) comprehensibility. Tormented is yet another film where kids are the "victims" of a malevolent spirit, and who slowly begin to uncover secrets from their past. The Donnie Darko connection comes courtesy of that element I singled out in listing differences between that film and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, namely a giant menacing bunny. For in fact the malevolent entity in Tormented is a giant menacing bunny, which may put an entirely new light on Easter celebrations which are being enjoyed as this review is written.
Lest anyone think that my second use of Donnie Darko is as boneheaded as my first, Tormented was released in Japan as Rabbit Horror, and that pretty much sums up its initially paper thin story. We are introduced to a young boy named Daigo (Takeru Shibuya) who, in the film's disturbing opening scene, puts an injured bunny out of its misery by crushing it with a huge rock. His sister Kiriko (Hikari Mitsushima) comes running up to him just in time to get completely splattered with blood blowback from the rabbit's unfortunate demise. Kiriko is in fact the film's narrator, though here's one of several illogical catches within the film: she is actually mute, at least within the narrative if not the narration. Kiriko details the elements of her dysfunctional home life, which includes the fact that her distant father (Teruyuki Kagawa) is so distraught after having lost both her mother and Daigo's that he has completely retreated into his work life, which in this case is illustrating pop up books. Shimizu repeatedly tries to draw parallels between the father's current project, a retelling of The Little Mermaid, and Kiriko's own inability to speak, but it's a tenuous connection at best.
The father is so distracted by his work he once again misses Daigo's birthday, and Kiriko gifts the little boy with her usual present, pressed flowers, but she follows that up with a visit to the local movie theater (do those even exist anymore?). They're watching a J-horror flick that probably wouldn't be recommended viewing for a boy as young as Daigo, but the 3-D epic actually becomes significantly weirder when a plush toy rabbit within the film floats out into the theater and into Daigo's hands. (It's kind of like a reverse Alice in Wonderland, with the rabbit coming to Alice— or Daigo—in this instance.) That's when Tormented gets into seriously bizarre territory, which may in fact provoke unintended laughter as it trundles along.
My colleague Ken Brown reviewed Shimizu's previous 3D horror outing, Shock Labyrinth 3D, a film which also prominently featured a fluffy bunny, and began that review with "Shock Labyrinth isn't a good movie". The good news (if there is any) is that Tormented is a better film than Shock Labyrinth, but that may in fact be damning with faint praise. As the story progresses, we soon realize that all three of the main characters are not exactly who (or what) we think they are, and the putative ghost story element, courtesy of a giant rabbit that begins haunting Daigo and by extension Kiriko, is also not who (or what) we think it is. But despite a fairly neat little twist about two thirds of the way through the film, Tormented is a fairly hackneyed outing, and furthermore it's not very scary. How frightened can you be of a guy traipsing around an abandoned amusement park in a giant rabbit costume? The bulk of this film's frights comes from some very aggressive sound mixing and Kenji Kawai's moody score. In fact my hunch is if you were to watch this film with the sound off, you might be howling with laughter through large swaths of it.
Tormented 3D Blu-ray, Video Quality
Tormented 3D is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Well Go USA with MVC (3D) and AVC (2D) encoded 1080p transfers in 1.78:1. This film got quite a bit of press during its theatrical exhibition due to having been lensed by well known cinematographer Chris Doyle, but if I were Doyle, I wouldn't be releasing any scenes from this film on my audition reel, despite some decently immersive 3D effects. Digitally shot with underwhelming contrast and a really surprising softness, Tormented is maddeningly murky most of the time, with a milky white overlay bathing several scenes and robbing them of any fine detail. People (and ghosts and bunnies) simply fade into the background in darker scenes. The film exploits a number of intentionally shaded environments, so part of this was no doubt done on purpose, but this is a really unappealing looking high definition presentation quite a bit of the time. The film has been vigorously color graded in post, but sadly that means it's been desaturated a great deal of the time, something that adds to its hallucinatory qualities but which does nothing for its sharpness or fine detail.
The 3D experience is relatively quite a bit better, which frankly may not be saying much. From the first scene of kids walking through a schoolyard, we get a nice sense of depth and spatial information. Doyle and Shimizu have crafted several nice sequences here, including a big climactic moment that involves a spiral staircase (you vintage film nuts will no doubt catch the reference, especially since this film has a mute heroine) that offers some really well done immersion. There's also a very cool sequence in a 3D movie theater where the film "reaches out and touches" Daigo and Kiriko that is arguably the film's most impressive visual effect. But the entire 3D experience is hobbled by the overall softness and murkiness of the general presentation here.
Tormented 3D Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Tormented 3D's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is everything the image quality isn't. Filled with fantastic startle effects, fulsome LFE and some great immersion, this track is about the only thing standing between Tormented and a future trek on something like Mystery Science Theater 3000. Discrete channelization is very smartly used for a variety of great sound effects (the "splat" when rock hits bunny head replete with over the listener's head panning being just the first of many fantastic foley effects). Kiriko's narration is always clear, and the film's minimal dialogue is also always easy to hear. Kenji Kawai's score is another standout, and uses the surround channels consistently. Fidelity is excellent and dynamic range is quite wide.
Tormented 3D Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Tormented 3D Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If Tormented had refrained from the bunny angle, I think this could have been a seriously spooky and entertaining film, for its central conceit (which I've labored mightily not to reveal) is a sound one and offers an appealing twist part way through the film. But seeing a guy in a giant rabbit suit (especially one that looks this patently ridiculous) traipsing through various environments is just so oddly humorous the film can't ever work up much of a head of scary steam. This Blu-ray is further hobbled by a pretty unappealing looking video presentation, but for film students wondering what good sound mixing and a well conceived score can add to a film, here's a potent example.
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Tormented 3D Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Exclusive Giveaway: Tormented 3D - April 22, 2013
Blu-ray.com and Well Go USA are offering three members a chance to win a copy of Tormented 3D. This Japanese horror film was created by Takashi Shimizu, the mind behind The Grudge franchise. Tormented 3D streeted on April 2.
• Tormented Blu-ray - February 22, 2013
Texas-based distributors Well Go USA have officially announced that they will release on 2D/3D Blu-ray Japanese director Takashi Shimizu's Tormented (2011), starring Hikari Mitsushima, Takeru Shibuya, and Tamaki Ogawa. The release will be available for purchase ...
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