British horror might be enjoying rude health of late (Mum & Dad, Eden Lake), but the slasher sub-genre remains elusively American.
The last time a Brit-production had a proper, ahem, stab at it, with 1986’s Slaughter High, they opted to set it Stateside. Something about your average British comp just didn’t fit the mould.
And so it was, until E4’s Skins provided a blueprint for homegrown teen drama with enough pre-’20s sex, drug-boshing and general adolescent smugness to enrage even the most permissive homicidal maniac.
Tormented’s makers are so enamoured with Skins, they’ve even drafted in a few ex-cast members. Alongside Stormbreaker’s Alex Pettyfer are Larissa Wilson and April Pearson playing members of the popular crowd who cyber-bully fat, friendless Darren Mullet (Calvin Dean). His suicide barely registers until members of their number begin dropping off, in increasingly grisly circumstances.
Writer Stephen Prentice is in no particular hurry to kill off his young wards. He’s having far too much fun filling their mouths with joyously crude banter instead. It’s entertaining, but anyone with a limited interest in the romantic entanglements of pimply teens may find the body count a little stingy.
Jason would have offed this lot during the opening credits. At least once the gore does kick in it’s memorably icky and inventive: keep ’em peeled, so to speak, for a sequence involving a wayward eyeball…
The genre might be a US import, but Tormented’s humour is locally sourced. The teachers are wry St Trinian’s-esque caricatures and the goth kids could be the offspring of Nigel Planer’s drippy hippy in The Young Ones.
True, there’s none of the schlocky pleasures of the original slasher movies, or the self-referential wit of the Scream-led revival, but it does consistently raise a laugh. And unlike say, Lesbian Vampire Killers, you never feel the filmmakers are patronising their predecessors.
Ellen E Jones
A slasher for the Twitter generation, Tormented catches the spirit of the times without being too try-hard. Quips and snogging take precedence over scares, but its commentary on new technology’s power to intimidate is chillingly apt.