Tempus Tormentum is a new film from director James Rewucki. This Canadian piece is about a drifter that wanders into a bizarre little town where he’s drugged and then stalked by three masked whack jobs. I’m still not sure why.
I’ll start with some of the positive aspects of the film…
What really stood out to me was how good some of the shots were. There are several scenes that left me applauding the cinematography, and they gave parts of the film the feel of a much larger budget than this one undoubtedly had. One scene in particular is a black and white dream sequence and it’s a really beautiful piece of film.
I’m a sucker for soundtracks, and this one was pleasantly good– rare for most indie films. Speaking of sounds, there’s one particular scene where the main character is being stalked while an old phonograph spits out tinny, old-time music. It was brilliant! Many of the visual elements stood out, such as characters donning old time plague doctor masks (I’m such a sucker for those…). Plus, the stalkers cruise around in a vintage Plymouth Fury convertible, and while the particular model is from the 60’s, I’m choosing to believe it was an homage to Stephen King’s Christine (’58 Fury).
Now let’s dive into what we’ll call… some areas of opportunity…
First off, I have no idea what year this movie was supposed to have taken place. All the characters are dressed fairly modern, but every telephone call made (of which there are several) is done on a rotary phone. Plus, all of the appliances in various scenes are old as hell. While this may not be important to the plot (or lack of) it was enough that it took me out of the viewing experience.
My biggest complaint with Tempus tormentum is that, while visually appealing, almost every scene in the film is just too long. There is a TON of running, a TON of stalking, and it just goes on and on and on. It was almost like certain stalking scenes were forced into the storyline simply because the filmmakers got access to a certain location and felt compelled to use it. The main character is chased from motel to factory, to church, to cabin, to a retail store of some sort, to what looks like an old barracks, to a rave, back to a factory– it’s just too much.
Now, the stalkers. First off, the three guys chasing the main character are basically wearing Slipknot masks, and it’s never really explained why. The masks just don’t serve much of a purpose to me. Plus, I couldn’t hear a thing the characters wearing them were saying. For the first half of the film, I was convinced they were calling the guy they were chasing “Mr. Balls,” and while comical, it didn’t make any sense to me. Only later on did I realize they were actually saying “Mr. Mouse,” but by that time the damage had been done, and “Mr. Balls” was stuck in my head.
As impressive as many of the shots were, they were often overshadowed by an over-abundant use of what I’m assuming are drone shots. Aerial footage is cool, and it’s certainly a new and impressive element that’s become affordable for lower budget indie films, but when it’s used every 5-10 minutes, it gets old.
The ending of Tempus Tormentum was confusing as well. Maybe I missed the whole point of the movie, but I still have no idea what happened to the main character. I’m not sure if he died or just went insane, and furthermore, I still don’t know why Slipknot was chasing him in the first place. I got the impression that the whole town was part of some cult, but I can’t shed any more light on it than that.
Ultimately, I just had too many questions and perceived too many loose ends for this one to be satisfying to me. What was obvious to me is that the filmmakers are capable of making a great looking movie, they just needed a more solid plot than what I perceived. With that, I hope that these Canadians keep producing new material, but continue to grow and improve in their craft.