The Torment Cast Interview

Don’t you just hate it when your best friend comes over to your flat and brings with him a supernatural presence that leaves you a trembling lump of fear and hysteria? Us neither – which is why we at Best For Film are rather looking forward to The Torment, which tells just that story. Check out the trailer below:

Alex (Nicholas Shaw) and Kate (Zoe Richards) find themselves putting up Alex’s best friend David (Giles Alderson) while he goes through some relationship problems, but things take a dark turn as David eventually reveals the real reason he has fled his own flat: he thinks is being haunted. Can Alex, Kate and their neighbour Anna (Francesca Fowler), who David befriends, believe him? Can they even believe their own eyes as events get increasingly terrifying? In anticipation of The Torment’s release on DVD on August 9th, we caught up with the cast of the The Torment, Giles Alderson, Francesca Fowler, Zoe Richards and Nicholas Shaw to talk blood, bell-ends and daring to be different.

So guys, There has been a lot of talk about the similarities between The Torment and Paranormal Activity, as you both use a docu-style of filming to illustrate a haunting. Is this something you find frustrating, as you shot your film first, or is it flattering?

Nicholas: Well we certainly didn’t even know about Paranormal Activity before hand, and I think The Torment does in fact feel very different.
Zoe: While we use a documentary-style of filming, it is a stylistic choice. We are not pretending what you are seeing is real as in Paranormal Activity. It’s not a mockumentary. I think it the whole documentary premise can be dubious, as it moves the film out of the realm of entertainment. With The Torment, you get that cathartic release of a good old fashioned horror story delivered in an edgy way.
Francesca: The Torment is really a story about these characters who just happen to be victims of supernatural things going on. The character development is so different to Paranormal Activity.

Giles: I’d say The Torment is deeper and darker than Paranormal Activity, delving into the psychology of the characters and questioning if what they experience is real.
Zoe: The audience almost becomes a character in the film, as they have a choice as to whether the supernatural is real or not, so I think it’s a study of fear as it is a straight horror.
Giles: I mean the word documentary is used a lot but I think it feels more filmic than documentary. We had a fantastic D.O.P and it looks stunning. It reminds me more of cinema verité.
Zoe: Nick Lawson was the D.O.P. Just such a talented guy. He actually had to act a fair bit in this film, himself. As a lot of it was P.O.V shots, the speed he moved and the hesitations he made were all very important.
Nicholas: I think he really enjoyed it. He really was the fifth character.
Zoe: And so the audience became the fifth character.

How much of the supernatural is seen and how much is implied? What can we expect?

The TormentNicholas: You can expect a lot of the haunting to be implied, but there are some wonderful moments of reveal where you do see something, but all the time you are questioning if it’s in the mind or is it real.
Giles: We really use the documentary style to make you question everything you see – did we see it, as we are seeing the world from David’s point of view? Is the camera itself the eyes of this supernatural presence and if so, are we then the presence as we watch as that audience?
Zoe: The audience actively participates in the action of the film. Who do you believe? What do you believe?

Were you actively trying to do something different?

Giles: Definitely. You can’t say this film is like anything you’ve seen before. I mean there are so many horror films that have the documentary style, but we do something so different with it in the way that we use it to play with points of view and to up the drama.

Are you fans of horror yourselves?

Francesca: I’m not a horror fan in the strictest sense – bit of a wimp really. But I have done horror before so I’m used to running around, getting covered in blood a lot, screaming, so it wasn’t a new experience in that sense but yeah, always good fun. Very sticky.

Was The Torment sticky?

Francesca: Very sticky. Sticky sticky!

And who got the stickiest?

Zoe: Well I had a fake torso at one point!

Francesca: So did I!

Nicholas: So competitive! I guess I lost out on the gore front.

Zoe: I’m a huge horror fan. In fact my first feature film was a horror – I got hammered to death in a phone box! I love fake blood from my theatre days so I was genuinely excited to be doing this film.
Francesca: I used to love making fake blood.
Zoe: Me too! I used golden syrup, coffee to give it that brownness, a bit of food colouring, then fairy liquid or bicarbonate of soda for consistency.
Francesca: You shouldn’t have revealed your ingredients! It’s like grandmother’s old cake recipe – you’re not supposed to reveal it to anyone!
Nicholas: Well I was never a fan of the gore. As a kid, even the music Doctor Who would make me want to hide behind the sofa.

Speaking of Doctor Who, Francesca….

Francesca: Yes…

Geeks that we are at Best For Film, we know that you featured in The Fires of Pompeii episode of Doctor Who. You have some big fans out there in the Who-verse. How have you found that?

Francesca: Well all of the Doctor Who fans I’ve encountered are genuinely very lovely – just very into doctor who. It has been an odd, overwhelming experience, but a very lovely one. Everyone is just so enthusiastic about the show that it’s nice actually. Big shout at to the Doctor Who fans out there.

We heard a rumour a while back that you were going to be the new assistant. Was there any truth to this?

Francesca: I think that was some of the fans hoping I would be. Funnily enough, Karen, who is the assistant now, is in my episode. Maybe there was a secret casting that I didn’t find out about. But yeah, I never went up for the role of the assistant. I never heard about it – except through the fan rumours afterwards.

Zoe, you’ve also got our geek pulses racing – we hear you had an audition for a little fantasy film recently – care to tell us about it?

Zoe: Yeah, well I have been auditioning to play the part of Frodo’s Mum in The Hobbit.

*Excited and incomprehensible squeals from Best For Film* How was it? Did you see any other faces you recognized during the audition process?

Zoe: It was great, but they are holding auditions all over the world so they have gone through a lot of people. I know and actor called Toby Kebbell who was there – he was in Rocknrolla.

*Even more excited and incomprehensible squeals from Best For Film* But, getting back to horror – were there any particular films that inspired your performances?

Zoe: Well for research I watched Michael Haneke’sHidden, which is of course
not a horror, but it dealt with similar psychological issues such as questioning what you’re seeing. I watched the Korean films Dark Water, A Tale of Two Sisters – we also watched Gomorrah on set.

Did you have any real life experiences of the supernatural to draw upon?

Zoe: Well my grandpa told me a story when I was little which I definitely believe. During the war, was in a field in Carlisle, when he saw his friend, who was a pilot was serving overseas. They had a conversation and then the pilot disappeared. It turned out the pilot had died that that day in another country. My granddad was speaking to his ghost!
Francesca: I’ve had some really weird experiences so I’m definitely a believer. A while ago I was shooting this film where we were driving through some woods in Birmingham when the car got stuck in some mud. While they were trying to fix it, me and the woman that was playing my mother got out and waited in this cabin that was owned by this Mr. Cadbury.
Zoe: Mr. Cadbury’s Cabin! Was it made of chocolate?
Francesca: No! So we went into this deserted cabin and found the fire was lit which was spooky enough, but you only had to look around to realize bad things had happened there. Apparently this Mr. Cadbury used to take his mistresses there, but it was dreadful. There were beds without mattresses and it was clearly a junkie’s den. It looked like a horror film in itself. As it was so spooky we got onto the subject of ghosts but after a few minutes of talking about our own spooky experiences, it suddenly went freezing cold and the fire went out! Then it hit us that the sun had done down, and that they guys should have called us back by now. It turned out that they had driven off and forgotten about us, leaving us alone in the dark in Mr. Cadbury’s creepy cabin! They came back for us eventually of course but yeah, I’ve had a few spooky experiences. I definitely think that stuff exists.
Nicholas: Great – how can I follow Mr. Cadbury’s cabin?!

So how was the atmosphere on set? Is working with such dark material a challenge?

Giles: Actually, working on The Torment was probably one of the best experiences I’ve had making a film. It was a challenge though – all our characters were in dark places and going to there every day and doing that sort of stuff was a challenge, but a great challenge, which is why we do what we do. But we had a few laughs too.
Francesca: There was this one time when me and Giles got quite told off. We were having a little break while the director Andy Cull was in a meeting, but Giles and I forgot we still had our microphones on so everything that Giles and I were saying could be heard. So during this break me and Giles started getting a bit silly because on one of the prosthetics used in the film there was…well…a willy basically. There was a cast of a helmet on this prosthetic thing’s leg
Giles: There was a few actually!
Francesca: And because we had our microphone still on, everyone could hear us talking about this bell-end!

Erm…Do you mean a literal cast of a willy?

Francesca: Literally a cast of a bell-end
Giles: You need to look out for it in the film!
Zoe: But the film isn’t all about a giant dick monster!
Giles: Well no!
Francesca: It’s because the designer had lots of different body parts that he wanted to use – it was probably his own wasn’t it?! So we were inspecting this prosthetic things leg and we were like, ‘Oh god! There’s a bell-end!’ We had bell-end radar that day.
Giles: And our radar was strong!
Francesca: We were so excited when we found it! We were like kids in a sweet shop!
Giles: I love that you compared us finding a bell-end to kids in a sweet shop! It’s brilliant – and true!

Ok, so the reader’s lasting memory of this interview isn’t willies – sum up the film in five words.

Nicholas: Erm….Edge of the seat thriller.The Torment
Zoe: Oooh! Very good!

We think it just might be, too. Check out The Torment on DVD from the 9th of August.

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