Tormented 3D Blu-ray Review

Most kids don’t have nightmares where they wake up screaming, “It was the rabbit!” Just as most kids wouldn’t get the urge to smash a helpless rabbit to death with a large rock in the schoolyard. But Daigo (Takeru Shibuya, the Japanese television drama INNOCENT LOVE) isn’t like most kids.


Soon after Daigo drops out of school, his half-sister Kiriko (Hikari Mitsushima, the DEATH NOTE movies and Sion Sono’s LOVE EXPOSURE), who lost her voice as a child and communicates only in hand-written notes, takes him to a 3D movie with deformed girls and a plush rabbit that leaps from the screen into Daigo’s arms. One night, Daigo is visited by a giant white bunny, who takes him to an amusement park. The next night, the creature pulls him through his mattress and into an insane asylum, where he’s held captive. It’s up to Kiriko to rescue her brother from the evil rabbit (who may or may not have a tie to the siblings’ past), as their illustrator father (Teruyuki Kagawa) is too busy working on a new rendition of THE LITTLE MERMAID to get concerned over his son’s nightmares.


Directed by Takashi Shimizu (JU-ON: THE GRUDGE, JU-ON: THE GRUDGE 2, as well as the American remakes), TORMENTED was released in its native Japan as RABBIT HORROR. Both suit the movie, but the latter works as both a descriptive title and a branch of the killer animal subgenre (NIGHT OF THE LEPUS, anyone?). The movie has faint nods to THE LITTLE MERMAID (Ariel, like Kiriko, was mute) and ALICE IN WONDERLAND (more American McGee than Lewis Carroll) that some will find serve the story, but it lacks much originality overall. Worse, there are almost no scares, as the antagonist is, after all, just some creep in an Easter Bunny costume.


TORMENTED may add a giant bunny and lose the jerks and jitters that made THE GRUDGE an annoyance, but it still resorts to the ghost and possession tales that Shimizu has made a steady career out of. Fans of the director, though, will find few flaws in this and continue to support the man at the box office.


TORMENTED premiered at the 2011 Venice International Film Festival and screened at the Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film, where it was acknowledged “for its originality and unique view of childhood through a child eyes,” an earned compliment on its impressive visuals.


Video: 16:9 Widescreen in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. The high-definition transfer of TORMENTED is primarily weak, as there are few fine details (in skin textures, costumes or sets) and many of the nightmarish sequences are hazy, ugly and lifeless.

Audio: Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Japanese Stereo. The audio, however, is quite effective, with a score and sound effects that enhance the atmosphere.

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