I'm one of the biggest fans of the horror genre. I try to see anything and everything horror related. I've always been like this. I remember back over tens years ago, getting my hands on bootleg copies of 'Ju-On' and 'Ringu', both of which are Japanese horror films. It was something different. It was a new way to scare people with building tension and pop out scares every now and again. I loved showing my friends these films.
Both 'Ju-On' and 'Ringu' became so popular and spawned sequels, they were eventually rebooted for American audiences, which started this Japanese horror craze that is still present today. One of the pioneers is Takashi Shimizu, who directed 'Ju-On' or 'The Grudge.' Shimizu made a name for himself with 'The Grudge' films and has since tried to win box office success since then, but to this day, nothing has worked. And I don't seem to recall any of his films other than 'The Grudge' appearing in theaters stateside. With his last effort, which was his foray into 3D with a film called 'Shock Labyrinth', I think he hoped to garner some of his previous success with American audiences. That never came to be.
He has given it the ole college try again with 'Tormented 3D', an atmospheric horror film that involves children, pop-up books, and a rabbit. While the film showcases some disturbing images and some creepy segments, they are not showcased often enough, and what may seem to be a horror movie, actually comes across at times as very silly and bizarre, taking us out of the mindset that we are supposed to be on the edge of our seat and scared. The slow moving plot doesn't help either.
The film starts with a young boy named Daigo, who decides to kill a poor, innocent little bunny rabbit by bashing its body in with a rock. His sister Kiriko doesn't get to there in time to stop him from doing this. After this bizarre episode, Daigo quits school and is harassed by others. His father, who is still in shock over the death of his second wife, is too busy with his work, which involves creating pop-up books for kids, to pay any attention to his own kids and what they might be doing.
In a laugh out loud moment, as we are watching a 3D movie, Kiriko takes her younger brother to a 3D horror movie (it's like 'Inception'), where we see some bizarre images and then we see a floating bunny rabbit doll floating ever so slowly toward the screen. This rabbit doll flies out of the screen and into the hands of little Daigo. Once Daigo takes his new bunny doll home, things go from weird to insane as Daigo sees his doll turn into a full grown man in a bunny suit who takes him in on strange journeys through a carnival and an abandoned hospital. I know, I thought of 'Donnie Darko' too. As Daigo journeys more and more with the rabbit, he doesn't seem to know what is real and what is not.
Hikari Mitsushima plays Kiriko fairly well with what she is given in the script. Her performance really shows us how much she cares for her brother. And Takeru Shibuya plays Daigo surprisingly well for how young he is. He makes us believe what he is actually seeing. But the thing that outshines everything is Shimizu's mood and tone for the film. Gore enthusiasts probably won't put this in their collection, as it doesn't showcase much blood at all, however the settings and atmospheric horrors are what the director was going for. And even though things are drawn out too far, and some of the story lines seem to get lost in translation, Shimizu ultimately pulls together a decently frightening tone, however I don't think audiences will eat this up or go back to it.
'Tormented 3D' comes with a decent 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. You have the option to view this horror flick in 2D or 3D from the main menu. The detail here isn't very sharp as the whole film feels soft. Scenes go in and out with various layers of grain too. The colors are dark. There are a lot of blacks, hazy blues, grays, and softened browns throughout. Even scenes in the daytime outside seem darker, with no real bright colors emitting from the image. Basically, the image looks flat, besides the 3D.
Takashi Shimizu is a huge fan of 3D these days, and he tries to use the technology to the best of its ability in the horror genre. Here, the depth is pretty good, with objects and people on different planes. Scenes with floating debris look especially good, and there are a few pop out effects throughout. However, the picture itself just seems vague and uninteresting, which is unfortunate, because this is an atmospheric horror movie.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix that seems to be a bit better than the video aspect. The dialogue always comes through clearly and is situated in the front speakers nicely with no evidence of hissing or cracking. The sound effects are intense and frightening and sound great from the rears and the surrounds. You can hear every splat and gush clearly. The directionality is also very good, adding a layer of creepiness to this thriller. Every now and then, the sub is used to draw tension and scares. For a slow moving horror flick, this sounds pretty good.
'Tormented 3D' is a decent example of a slow moving and tension building horror movie that never quite crosses the scary line. Shimizu's camera work is outstanding here, but ultimately I can leave this horror film on the shelf with out ever seeing it again. The video presentation was sub par, but the 3D was pretty good, along with a solid audio mix. However, the only extra is a trailer. My advice, rent this before purchasing.