Tuesday, 2 December 2014


Once again, this is not a film that is currently at cinemas but, for a very short time, it is available to view online for free. As such I realise a few of you are quite likely to watch it sooner rather than later and would prefer to remain spoiler free. With that in mind, I'll offer a less detailed review. 
If you are interested, you can view the film via the Facebook page Watch Her Name Was Torment Free! (And Support The Second Film)
It includes a link to YouTube where the film can be viewed.

Her Name Was Torment (2014)

Dir: Dustin Wayde Mills
Starring: Allison Egan, Jackie McKown, Dustin Mills, Brandon Salkil

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: I’ll try not to spoil too much here, but read on at your own risk.

Her Name Was Torment clocks in at a lean 50 minutes and can be split into two distinct parts. 
One follows a woman, played by Allison Egan, who remains unnamed (although a flash on screen identifies her as Torment) as she is questioned by a psychiatrist regarding her role in a series of brutal murders.
The footage is primarily taken from a static camera and the woman's face is blurred. However, we learn from the doctor (whose voice-over is delivered by director Dustin Mills himself) that her face is badly scarred. 
As the interview goes on the nature of Torment's crimes becomes more mysterious. Much like Torment herself, 24 of her 27 victims are unidentifiable. The doctor says it's like she's 'a ghost killing ghosts'.
Furthermore, as the interview progresses it becomes clear that Torment believes she is performing these acts not for herself but on behalf of somebody - or something - else.
The other part of the film, intercut with the interview, follows Torment with one of her victims, from stalking and subduing him to taking him to a dark dungeon where she strips down to her underwear, dons a legitimately frightening mask and begins to slowly torture him to death. As she maims and mutilates the victim, the viewers learn Torment's horrific mantra: 'Dissect, disassemble, dispose'.

BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): While Her Name Was Torment is a very challenging film, it is also compelling. It is wonderfully shot on such a shoestring budget (the IMDb estimates that it cost just $500 to produce) and rarely if ever feels constrained by its modest means.
I can't help but feel that is entirely due to the fascinating story. What at first appears as if it could be a bog standard Hostel-style torture p0rn effort, soon becomes something deeper, darker and more mysterious, adding a supernatural (or is it?) layer to the tale.
Also the film derives most of its energy from the standout performance of Allison Egan. Throwing herself fully into a role in which Egan found herself in a state of undress for a large portion of the film, she really is a revelation. When you consider the fact that her face is obscured for the entirety of the runtime, it is even more impressive.
Egan is able to emote throughout the simplest of body movements and brings to life a genuinely chilling antagonist.
Ethan's performance is not the only one I'd like to praise, as I also really enjoyed Dustin Mills' low-key voice work as the doctor. His delivery was very natural and helped drive on the plot without ever feeling like an exposition tool. On top of writing and directing the flick, Mills really contributed as a performer too. What a talented guy!
I also loved the mythos that this film established, with interesting touches in the dialogue ('Bottle, bucket, bin') and certain ideas, such as the Overseer and whatever his/its motivation may be.
Finally, I don't think I'm spoiling too much when I say that this film paves the way for a sequel - after all, the reason it is being made available to view online is to help garner support and funding for one or possibly even two sequels. As well as the deeper mystery of the story, the post-credits scene adds a brilliant twist that really built my interest for what is to come next.
And judging by the level of support that the sequel has gathered from fans at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/her-name-was-torment-ii there is definitely more on the way.

WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): I have said this in my previous post, but I will say it again - Her Name Was Torment is challenging. From the decidedly depraved subject matter and onscreen events, even down to the more experimental manner in which it was filmed, Her Name Was Torment will not be to everybody's tastes.
Some will almost certainly be offended, the film doesn't just feature prolonged scenes of bodily mutilation but also a rather uncomfortable scene of necrophilia. This film is not a big studio, teen-friendly horror movie filled with lame jump scares and pop culture references. It is a dark and disturbing work that explores and examines depravity. For some, it will simply be too extreme.
The film is also shot very much in an authorise style. It flits from black and white to colour, from handheld to static camera work. Throughout the picture there are numerous artful shots of The Angel. Once again, this mishmash of styles may prove distracting or even annoying to some viewers more used to mainstream fare.
On an acting level, as much as I enjoyed the work of Allison Egan and Dustin Mills, I didn't feel that Brandon Salkil suitably portrayed a man going through the harrowing and agonising experience that the victim was enduring. Of course, the storyline suggests a very valid reason for him to react in a less human way to most, but instead at times it felt a little like he was just not performing at the level required for a man experiencing his own protracted dismemberment.
And finally, while the tight budget rarely affected the film, the one case in which I felt it let down the general production values of the rest of the picture was in the depiction of the Overseer. Perhaps showing a little less, as in his/its earlier scenes was the best route here.

VERDICT: In one way, this is a tough film on which to cast a verdict. It is certainly divisive and I can guarantee that a lot of people will simply not GET it. It is extreme and disturbing and never once does this mood lighten. It is not a date film. It is not a film to watch with beer, pizza and a group of rowdy friends. It requires attention, a strong stomach and a willingness to think about what you are being shown. It is a film that will haunt you afterwards.
In fact, several says after watching Her Name Was Torment, it still pops into my mind. And it is for this reason that I do recommend it. If you are strong enough to stick it out through some very dark places, the film will take a hold of you. It isn't a cookie cutter, easily disposable bit of junk cinema - it is a genuine work of art and it hints at a bigger and even richer story to come.
Her Name Was Torment will challenge you... But if you are up to the task, it will offer rewards rarely found in this genre

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