Set in 1988, this indie horror film inspired by true events really delivers
The Torment of Laurie Ann Cullom is about a woman named Laurie who, after being attacked a year ago, now suffers from extreme agoraphobia. What she soon realizes over the course of three fateful days is that there may be more to fear inside her own home when an intruder begins to torment her.
It’s ambitious for such a low budget film to do a period piece like this. The 1980s don’t seem that long ago, but technology and style has changed so much that the production design required a lot of careful attention to detail. Fortunately, the film crew pulled it off perfectly. The time period was presented wonderfully without any in your face moments that scream, “See! It’s 1988, see!” I can’t say the same for some bigger budget productions I’ve seen recently, which go out of their way to make sure you know it’s the 80s to the extent that it feels forced and disingenuous. So big kudos to the filmmakers here!
The Torment of Laurie Ann Cullom is also largely a one person show, with Shannon Scott as Laurie on screen for almost the entire run time. She has the enormous responsibility of getting the viewer to care about what’s going on. And Shannon Scott succeeds in a huge way. This actress is extremely likeable and very talented. She comes across as funny, sweet, and very charming. She’s a classic girl next door who gives a tense, convincing, and heartbreaking performance once the ‘torment’ begins. This is one of those movies where you want to yell at the screen and jump in to help the main character. It’s no surprise that Shannon Scott won best actress at the Freak Show Horror Film Festival.
The music is a spine tingling mix of a distant emergency siren and the sound you feel when adrenaline rushes through your body when you’re scared. It’s a compelling compliment to the dread and frantic antics of Laurie as she struggles keep her composure.
There’s also some nice playing with light and dark in the film. Whenever there seems to be someone in the house early on, it suddenly seems slightly darker than the scene before. When the intruder shows up, he seems to come out of the darkness. In contrast, Laurie always looks bright and well lit until shadows take over the film as night falls. I can’t say if these were conscious decisions or merely happy accidents, but it’s something I noticed that really worked!
The Torment of Laurie Ann Cullom is an extremely satisfying watch. It’s a well made horror film with a well placed nod to Halloween, a villain who resembles Kane Hodder, and a great soundtrack and musical score that effectively represent the era. There are creepy moments, scenes that are hard to watch, and a well paced build up of events all surrounding a sympathetic lead character. That’s what makes this film such a great watch for horror fans.
Luckily, star Shannon Scott and writer/director Mark Dossett are working together again on his next film. Based on what I saw in The Torment of Laurie Ann Cullom, I can’t wait to see it.
Visit the film on Twitter at @TormentOfLaurie. The pinned tweet has details how you can stream/buy the film directly from the filmmaker.