DVD: Torture Chamber (2013)

November 8, 2014 | By


TortureChamber2013Film: Very Good

Transfer:  Very Good

Extras: Standard

Label: Cinedigm Home Entertainment

Region: 1 (NTSC)

Released:  January 28, 2014

Genre:  Horror

Synopsis: Jimmy uses his unholy powers of persuasion to inflict trauma on former childhood tormentors, and his family, who turned a blind eye to emotional and physical abuse.

Special Features:  Stills Gallery




Contrary to its title, Dante Tomaselli’s latest film is neither a torture porn endeavor nor period piece, but a surprisingly concise tale of revenge and the supernatural, boasting perhaps the most linear plot in the director’s filmography.

Known for creating horror tales with sequences evoking prolonged nightmares, Torture Chamber is ostensibly about Jimmy (very creepy Carmen LoPorto), a rage-filled child whose jealousy of an older brother, a priest (Richard D. Busser), and abuse from his parents fuels a telekinetic ability to create fire, but when a stupid childhood trick (literally) backfires, the scarred child is locked up in his bedroom like a mutant, until he successfully escapes and enlists a team of fellow kids to enact revenge on his tormentors.

Undeterred by a lean budget and fast shooting schedule, Tomaselli milked some excellent locations for his tale, including caverns, rocky tunnels, and an elaborate labyrinth and tower which form the maze through which Jimmy and his cohort dragged their victims into chambers outfitted with archaic torture devices. There’s a handful of graphic moments, but Tomaselli’s eye is on mood and sustaining an atmosphere of dread rather then the details of bodily destruction, and part of the film’s success lies in Timothy Naylor’s camerawork, lighting scenes for striking contrast rather than realism, and the sound design which is constantly active with churning bits of music, voices, drones, and other minutia.

The performances are generally fine, with LoPorto quite strong as Jimmy, Ellie Pettit is quite affecting as the sensitive child lured away from safer surroundings, and Tomaselli regular Christie Sanford as his abusive, delusional mother. Veteran genre actress Lynn Lowry (The Crazies, Score) has a nice role as the psychiatrist who’s ultimately hunted down by Jimmy and his creepy troupe of kids. Busser’s performance is a little too nuanced, and Vincent Pastore’s role as an investigating shrink is rather perfunctory, but it’s nice to see Tomaselli’s stock company members Raine Brown and Danny Lopes (both in Horror and Satan’s Playground) in small roles.

More so than in his prior work, Tomaselli sustains a steady, surreal, dream-like state (including dream-within-dreams as portents of imminent danger) which overshadows the lack of overt visual pyrotechnics, a more detailed  car crash, and the use of digital effects. In fact, the film seems to have been crafted with purely practical effects, and by relying on lighting, basic editing tricks, and sound, Tomaselli’s proven the rich value that can be extracted from classic skills and eerie locations rather than digital trickery.

At 93 mins. Torture Chamber is near-perfect, and there are some genuinely gorgeous visuals throughout (including Tomaselli’s affection for singular characters moving through or framed by a circular tunnel with harsh lighting striations).

The limitations of the single layer DVD presentation are only evident in low lighting – greys and blacks in low light shots reveal standard DVD compression – but the colours are quite strong, flattering the diverse locations and atmospheric scenes. The 5.1 and 2.0 are fairly robust, although the dialogue in a few scenes seems a little soft. The only extra is a stills gallery, but a new German Blu-ray edition reportedly features a making-of featurette and director commentary.

Interviews with Dante Tomaselli from 2014 and 2007 are also available.



© 2014 Mark R. Hasan



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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review

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