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Torched - Plotdigger Films Print E-mail
User Rating: / 12
Written by Ray Casta   
Thursday, 22 April 2010
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Directed by: Ryan Nicholson
Written by: Vince D'Amato / Story by: Ryan Nicholson
Produced by: Ryan Nicholson & Nicole Hancock
Cinematography by: Damien Foisy
Editing by: Guy Russell
Music by: Necrophagia
Special Effects: Ryan Nicholson
Cast: Michelle Boback, Tamara Pender, Daniel Lomas, Ryan Haneman, Rob Haneman, Rob Scattergood
Year: 2004
Country: Canada
Language: English
Color: Color
Runtime: 45 minutes

Studio: Plotdigger Films

Ever since it initially leaked onto the internet years back, genre enthusiasts and gorehounds jumped at the opportunity to see Ryan Nicholson's first foray into extreme horror with Torched. Before his gruesome full length exploits (Live Feed and Gutterballs), Plotdigger Films' roots lay in this notorious short film, which immediately became the talk of the online horror community. Not until the 2006 anthology project released by Creepy Six Films' Hell Hath No Fury, was this film available before, outside of the internet. It isn't until now that Torched is finally available on its own, in a DVD distributed by Ryan Nicholson himself. For the first time ever, Plotdigger Films presents Torched in an exclusive cut dubbed the "Char-Broiled Edition" (limited to 666 copies). Different than any version ever seen before, the "Char-Broiled Edition" incorporates footage previously unreleased and features a brand new soundtrack recorded by Killjoy of the Necrophagia.

For a ferocious 45 minutes, Ryan Nicholson's Torched makes for a punishing viewing experience. The film opens with an attractive young nurse, Deanna (Michelle Boback) on her way home from a hard day of work. On the elevator, she is viciously assaulted by a masked attacker with a stun gun. She is verbally abused and subsequently raped. This attack is sudden and traumatic. She spends the next night holed up in her apartment, shaken and withdrawn. On the next night, she is attacked again in her apartment. This time, however, Deanna is ready -- and with a stun gun, she surprises the burglar. She keeps him hostage for days and exacts her own brand of bloody, torturous revenge! That is the plot of Torched and yes, the movie is about as straightforward as it gets. But therein lies the beauty of the movie. Torched has its particular agenda from its inception and the story does not overcomplicate itself, nor does the story do anything it isn't supposed to do. It doesn't dwell on the humiliation and rape, but it certainly keeps focus of its agenda: the woman gets her revenge.

In the rape-revenge genre, Torched easily ranks somewhere at the top. In the world of the genre, the rape is the direct catalyst for the female protagonist to exact her revenge. Whereas Meir Zarchi's I Spit On Your Grave emphasizes the notoriously lengthy rape and humiliation of the main character, Torched is heavy on revenge. There is nothing more disappointing than a rape-revenge film that hides from its intentions, or flinches from violence. Thankfully, Ryan Nicholson does not disappoint in any department. There are times when the movie feels over the top, yet it achieves shocking realism at these moments of pure, unadulterated chaos. Quite realistically, Deanna's character descends deeper and deeper into insanity as the movie progresses. In this respect, the movie frighteningly explores the depths of depravity that a person can achieve at the most savage level and ultimately, the damaging loss of one's sanity. Michelle Boback flawlessly channels a level of extreme insanity and her performance is distinguished in the way it can be so over the top and insane yet it never feels forced. Her characterization fits into the whole over the top, fantasy "feel" of the movie.

The torture Deanna inflicts upon her attacker is some of the most harrowing, inconceivable acts of vengeance ever depicted on screen, hands down. Torched is the start of Ryan Nicholson's gruesome special effects work. For his first project, Nicholson stamps his name on the genre, in a variety of ways. Needles, a power saw, an enema, and a blowtorch are among the instruments he incorporates for the violence and torture here -- and never have those objects been more horrific. To say the movie is "painful" would surely be an understatement. This movie reaches a new level of pain and suffering. What's fascinating about the movie is how there is no one to truly root for. You feel sorry for Deanna when she is victimized. However, when she tortures her male captive with no mercy, you become scared of her and what she has become. You become to realize no one is safe around Deanna. Her rage cannot be tamed. The captive, whom she believes was her rapist, is presented as an object for Deanna. She is a nurse and he is her patient. A nameless character, he is deliberately never seen or really heard from behind his ski-mask or the moment he breaks into Deanna's apartment. He practically exists for Deanna to do whatever she wants -- and this is where
Torched is at its most unapologetic.

There is a sequence where Deanna comes home drunk from a night of drinking at "The Night of the Bloody Fox", a college club her best friend Leanne (Tamara Pender) invited her to. She runs into her neighbor, Trevor (Daniel Lomas), and he takes her back to his place where Deanna, inebriated and vulnerable, plays the aggressor and pushes Trevor into his bed. She rides him, and naturally takes control. Torched is superb during these quiet, subtle moments. In this scene when Trevor takes control and gets on top of her, it does not look like Deanna is enjoying it at all. She is reliving the attack in her mind. There is no full frontal nudity throughout the film. The actresses did not want to show nudity and their decision works in favor of the work. Example: After Deanna is raped in the beginning, she takes a shower. There are many voyeuristic shots of her changing clothes yet the camera never exploits her. Deanna changes her mood like she changes her clothes. She puts on an outfit which is appropriate for her mood. Part of the brilliance in Boback's performance is how she is forced to change roles at varying occasions. She gets dressed for the part -- for working at the hospital, going out with her friend or mercilessly blowtorching and sticking syringes in the cock and balls of her helpless captive. These subtle touches are what make the movie audaciously original.

Plotdigger Films presents Torched in a 16:9 aspect ratio that looks well done. The video looks a bit rough around the edges at times, but for a low-budget independent film, it is to be expected. The audio is presented in English 5.1 Dolby Digital and works very well with the film -- plus the new soundtrack over it sounds great. For a DVD he presented himself, Ryan Nicholson did a terrific job with the supplemental materials to be found here. There is a documentary featurette called, "Behind the Burn: The Making of Torched", which clocks in at about 15-minutes, and it features certain shots at special effects being completed (such as the self-proclaimed "money shot" of the film - the cock and ball torture) and Ryan directing. All in all, this is a quick and worthwhile featurette. Additionally, there is an interview with Ryan himself, which also runs at about 15-minutes. In the interview, Ryan explains this DVD is the first (and final) legit release of the movie. He explains the changes in this cut and he also speaks on the genesis of the story and his inspirations for it. The director's commentary isn't all regurgitated material from the interview, so the track is definitely worth a listen if you are a fan of the movie. The DVD also rounds up an original trailer for the movie which looks as if it was made recently (most likely for this release) as it mentions Live Feed and Gutterballs.

Inspired by such rape-revenge classics as Ms. 45 and I Spit On Your Grave, Torched drives home an empowerment theme. This is where Ryan Nicholson first portrays woman as not the victim but the strong lead who has the upper hand. As Ryan stated before in an interview, "I like the males to be tormented in my movies more so than the females." With Torched and his later works, this statement is wholly proven. There are a few images here which may be difficult to witness if you are a man. This is more than a movie with balls. Torched stabs the balls of the exploitation film and blowtorches its penis. Shot in only four days on a low-budget, Torched is highly impressive in that it ventures into territory rarely seen in a rape-revenge film hence making it the unabashedly nasty piece of nihilism it is.

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 Aspect Ratio: 16:9
 Region: NTSC 1
 Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, 2.0

 - Behind the Burn: The Making of Torched
 - Director's commentary
 - Original trailer

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