Ginger Nuts of Horror
By Alex Davis
Dir. Dustin Mills, USA, 50 mins
Sometimes you just read a title and think to yourself – now that sounds like a winner. This one drew me in right away for sure, and the sound of the synopsis also made this one sound very much like my kind of territory. I've also never minded a shorter film, as it can often be the case that the shorter running time enables there to be more packed into things. So would that be the case here?
Her Name is Torment follows the gruesome story of 'Patient 394', a woman convicted of 27 murders and now under psychiatric care. Our opening shot is a grainy vision of her stalking one of her victims – which runs a bit long for my liking – before we get the voiceover from her doctor during the opening credits. I like this way of doing this, as it did a lot of setting up in a short space of time without crashing into the main film. The thread of the story is largely composed of two parts – one of an interview being undertaken with Patient 394, whose face us blurred out to hide the apparently hideous scarring she has given herself, and the other an unflinching look at some of the crimes she has committed. This takes in our male victim having part of his tongue removed, an eye gouged out with a spoon, a wooden needle stuck into his ear and pushed far beyond that, and a whole lot more besides. It also introduced Patient 394's dead lover – only known as 'him' – in a scene that was uneasy watching but didn't ultimately seem to go anywhere.
That last line possibly sums up the main issue with the movie for me. Even for 50 minutes, the plot is relatively slim and it's more of an exploration of events we're effectively told about in the first five minutes. In fact the most interesting twist – and potential set-up for a sequel – comes in the last 60 seconds. We learn a limited amount from Patient 394 in her psychiatric assessments, which left a slightly frustrating feeling that we'd only really scratched the surface of things. The scenes are generally well done – be it the gore or be it the more candid interview sections – and I have to give a huge credit to director Dustin Mills for achieving what he has on such a shoestring budget. But I did feel this was perhaps a part of something rather than a full product.
The other aspect of the movie that was slightly questionable for me was the constant use of various visual and camera effects. We have lots of smash cuts, shots that are blurred, shots sped up, cuts from colour to black and white and back again, words almost subliminally flashed onto the screen... and don't get me wrong, there were places where I liked these and felt that had a good effect. But after 50 minutes there were times were the visual 'flashiness' just started to become a bit grating and feel like overkill.
With all the above said, there were many things I like about this movie. The lead performance was strong for sure, there were a few scenes that had be cringing in discomfort (for all the right reasons!) and the concept and framing were both good. Having initially said I've never minded movies being shorter than the industry-standard ninety minutes, I can't help but feel that this one would have benefited from being a bit longer. We get a sense and a flavour of Patient 394's twisted world, but we never really dip fully beneath the surface in order to get right into the murky depths. And that feels a little like an opportunity missed. To sum it up, I was certainly say watch it and enjoy what there is here. There is a sequel out there – released in 2016 – and given what I've seen here that's certainly one I will be looking out for and hopefully that will give a more rounded, deeper view into the events explored here.
RATING: 7/10. An interesting concept with some good ideas, but held back from a real top rating in the main by being rather too much of a 'tease' in various aspects of the story, as well as an overuse of gimmicky effects. With that said, hats off to all involved for actually getting the movie made at all on its restrictive budget and delivering something that did draw and hold my interest throughout. It's not unmissable but fans of Film Gutter would probably get something out of it, so it's very respectable 7/10.