The film opens at the funeral of overweight, asthmatic teenager Darren Mullett, who committed suicide after suffering brutal and sustained bullying at the hands of the in-crowd. Rather than feeling guilty – and staying true to genre – the clique decide to throw a party that very evening. Little do they know that Darren has come back as a zombie to kill them all...
The bare bones of the plot sounds a lot like a remake of Carrie, until you realise that Tormented is low budget and British. Everything is darker and grittier, with a nihilistic humour which makes Scream look like High School Musical. Throw in a killer soundtrack, a few original-Skins cast members and lots of American Apparel clothes and the whole tried and tested formula receives a total facelift.
Tormented is clever, original and shockingly funny. The film is perfect down to every small detail, from the fast, jerky camera movements, to the clueless headmaster (Amory) who is so busy sucking up to the governors, he doesn't notice mass carnage happening around him. It is clear from the outset that Prentice and Wright are true horror fans – with careful references to Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday 13th and others laid out through the film. Rather than recreating the "classics" however, or making a predictable and obvious satire, Tormented hangs uncomfortably in a no-mans land. The sickening physical and emotional abuse which Darren suffered is fully realised and can never be forgotten. Yet it is juxtaposed constantly with a defiant mockery in cutting one-liners and even with Darren's own resurrection as an ungainly zombie, lurching awkwardly in corners and watching people have sex.
There is a sense of alienation and moral uncertainty at the core of the film. As Justine (Middleton) - the only truly sympathetic character - is slowly drawn in she is ultimately forced to accept her own guilt in what happened. No sense of right or wrong ever lasts long however and ultimately everyone has blood on their hands- especially Darren. At 91 minutes, Tormented is fast-paced and constantly entertaining. The final ending is also one the best of any horror film in its stark simplicity, setting the whole film apart as a sharp and thoughtful take on an established genre.