Lean, nasty, and patently absurd, The Tortured plays like one long scream of agony. A jury sentences child-killer John Kozlowski (Bill Moseley) to 25 years to life, but that's nowhere near enough for Elise (Erika Christensen) and Craig Landry (Jesse Metcalfe), the aggrieved parents of his most recent victim, a six-year-old abducted from his own backyard. The justice system having failed with this stock sick fuck—early on, he cues up a scary-kitsch lullaby and reenacts some family trauma—the ostensibly "normal" couple takes matters into their own hands. The execution of their DIY death penalty takes up the bulk of this breakneck thriller: Working in tandem, Elise and Craig hijack a police transport and whisk Kozlowski off to a backwoods-Vermont dungeon of their own, where Dr. Craig uses his medical expertise to ensure the most painful experience possible for his captive. The ensuing twists and turns suggest that The Tortured, directed by veteran Robert Lieberman from a script by Marek Posival, fancies itself a thinking man's torture-porn picture. If there is such a thing, this shrill piece of work certainly isn't it.
Get the Film & TV Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.