Saturday, 25 September 2010



You know what would be really nice? It would be better than nice, indeed it would be absolutely spiffing, if film-makers learned the technique of lighting night sequences so that they didn't look pointlessly overlit, but we could actually see what the hell was happening. Whole sequences of recent films like Splintered have been rendered invisible by virtue of not being sufficiently lit. And great chunks of this British DTV horror item take place in a darkened flat in the small hours of the morning and for all that's discernible on the screen, it might as well be on the radio.

The Torment is a fairly incoherent grab-bag of demon, monster and ghost ideas that twists the Weeping Angels idea from Dr Who - they can only move when you're not actually looking at them - and has a bloke haunted by some kind of demon things that he can only see in pitch darkness. Our hero, following a relationship break-up, crashes with a couple of friends but is continually pursued and persecuted by unidentified monsters that his friends can't see. Might they have something to do with the pregnant woman who lives upstairs? Is he mad? (Hint: the original title was The Possession Of David O'Reilly.) What's happened to his ex-girlfriend? How long before somebody lamps him?

Sadly, no-one lamps him, kicks him in the nethers or even holds him down until he explains what precisely is going on, and instead the leads stumble around the darkened flat shouting and screaming and mysteriously not smashing into the furniture. Even if a film is set at night, we the audience need to be able to see - it's a dramatic device. Look at a thousand and one old noirs - there's lighting. It may well be that lighting for video or digital is a completely different thing to lighting for film, and that things would be worse if they used too much, but you have to find some way of illuminating the darkness without it looking artificially lit.

On the positive side, the naturalistic feel works quite well, and in the midst of the murk there are a couple of creepy scenes and jump moments that work quite well - just enough to get a second star. And it might have got more if I'd been able to see what was going on. But a subplot about a webcam and motion detector is only briefly used, and the ending is one of those irritating final shots that call into question exactly what we've been watching. Annoying and frustrating more than anything else. For crying out loud, buy some bulbs.


No comments: