The Tortured Soul
11 May 2022
Andrew de Burgh
Andrew de Burgh
Bianca Stam, Nicholas de Burgh Sidley
The film opens, there’s blood on what appears to be a workbench, a bloody tissue matched with similarly bloody tools, then, the tip of a finger. The tip of a finger?!?! No, this isn’t the Depp vs Heard film which will no doubt one day reach our screens, it’s ‘The Tortured Soul’, a short film from Andrew de Burgh.
The blood and gore continues beyond the workbench into the rest of the room, where we are greeted by the bizarre sight of a woman (Bianca Stam) sitting calmly across from a man with a bloody towel over his face. ‘‘Why?’’ you ask, “what could someone have possibly done to deserve such a fate?”. As it turns out this woman, Tamara Nolan, has only gone and caught herself a serial killer, infiltrating his circle in order to exact revenge on the mana who murdered her husband.
Of all the reasons in the world, that one seems the most legitimate. However, before getting revenge on this apparently brutal murderer, she must destroy him with words - a long drawn out speech on everything he’s taken away from her ensues. This is a classic move from action movies, and, to a certain degree, works in that capacity, however, it doesn’t have the same results in a short psychological horror. There’s too much information being thrown at you too fast to process all of it, whilst at just nine minutes there’s very little time build any sort of affinity to Tamara.
Nevertheless, Bianca Stam impresses, giving a level-headed performance as Tamara, coming across as both an ordinary person, struggling to get over the loss of her husband, and a really really angry woman. She never raises her voice too high, but her composure would be enough to strike fear into the eyes of the man sitting opposite. That is, if he could see from behind the towel.
The staging of the scene is also impressive, with Andrew de Burgh proving competent behind the camera - especially with that chillingly bizarre opening shot. De Burgh also delivers a cracking script, full of memorable lines of dialogue such as ‘we’re a truly despicable species’ and ‘everything is not okay in the end’. What those lines have to do with Tamara confronting the husband-murdering serial killer is anyone’s guess, but they sure must have been a load of fun to read out.
Inspired by the popular 2010 Korean film ‘I Saw the Devil’, an excellent example of a psychological horror-thriller, ‘The Tortured Soul’ is always just one step from reaching that level of grittiness. The chilling opening scene is punctuated by the sheer strangeness of a fingertip on the counter. The tension of the interrogation is broken by the stifled, stereotypical laugh from the serial killer. The laugh reoccurs several times - ruining any vague idea that this man is a threat. Can you imagine how much worse Darth Vader would have been if he spent ‘Star Wars’ laughing every five minutes - that’s exactly how the serial killer sounds.
‘The Tortured Soul’ doesn’t feel too much like a psychological horror, more like the final scene of an action film, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s creative in some its staging, has a standout performance from Bianca Stam, and an endlessly quotable, if not always coherent, script.