The Ford Five: Best Torture Films

Being a fan and reviewer of horror films, it’s a certainty that I will stumble across films more commonly referred to as ‘torture porn’. However, in some cases, this label has struck me as being incredibly derogatory. First used to describe Eli Roth’s mediocre 2005 flick Hostel, torture porn is generally used for a film which often features gratuitous gore, interminable torture scenes and lack of plot or character. There are innumerable cases of films ticking these boxes, but there have been a few nasty films that are well made, well executed and genuinely fine horror films, including some on this list that were up there as the finest of their respected decades. Before I start the countdown, I will point that I have chosen not to include any of the Saw films, because the first Saw is barely a torture film and the sequels are uniformly bad, nor have I included Hostel or Wolf Creek, for the simple reason that I don’t really like them that much. With that aside, let’s count down what I believe to be the five best torture films of all time.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS:

There weren’t a lot of films I considered to be close to my top 5, but of those nearly placed, special mention goes to Simon Rumley’s intense revenge film Red White and Blue, which I reviewed before and the intense Australian film The Horseman, which I called one of the best unseen horrors of the noughties.

5.

W Delta Z (AKA The Killing Gene) (2008)

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One of the first films of the torture porn era to prove that you could have both explicit gore and real drama, W Delta Z is a grungy, darkly shot crime mystery in the same vein (if obviously not as good) as Se7en, in which a detective, played with a grizzled intensity by Stellan Skarsgård, investigates a disturbing case in which local gangsters, involved in an infamous, thrown-out-of-court case years earlier, are apparently being give the choice of be tortured, or kill their loved ones. Focusing more on a creeping atmosphere and only flashes of violence for the most part, W Delta Z is an interesting film that wouldn’t even qualify as a torture film if it wasn’t for a few scenes down the stretch. Housing good performances from Skarsgård, the underrated Selma Blair and a pre-fame Tom Hardy, W Delta Z is a well made and intriguing crime film that features torture scenes both physically and emotionally painful.

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