Torture Room (2007) – (aka Pledge of Allegiance)
Accused of having terrorist ties because of a connection to Arab nationals, an American woman (Lena Bookall) is arrested by the U.S. government, tortured and eventually brainwashed into betraying those closest to her. Written, directed and produced by Eric Forberg, this topical independent thriller also stars John Forgeham, Barry J. Ratcliffe, Chad Nell, Louis Graham, Ahmed Lucan and William Tempel.
A title like “Torture Room” doesn’t leave much to the imagination. Well at least nowadays with the cycles of torture p*rn coming at you as fast as they can film them. While I’ve seen my share of the “Hostels” and “Saws” they all have up to this point been focused on deviant intentions and clever kill devices. I bet most film goers haven’t stopped to think about what form of these scenes are used in real life for political purposes. Well lucky for us this film is a work of fiction but its my guess that its based on actual events from stray news reports, whispered secrets and glimpses of read between the line CNN reports. Yes, there is a political motive for the good of our country.
Anoush (Lena Bookall), an american woman who has been under surveillance is kidnapped by agency men and brought to a remote location. Her value comes in the form of ties with middle eastern men who the government wants information on. We assume it’s the government, though at best it is an agency or secret sector that deal with the kind of torture and abuse that would make most folks cringe. Over time we come to learn that they do this kind of stuff to create informants, spies and central intelligence that would be difficult using traditional means. Anoush, although frail and seemingly harmless, has been picked to undergo their methods for this very reason. As she awakes in a cold cell like room, she is greeted only by the voice over loudspeaker of a Mr. Green (John Forgeham).
Green, a rather dapper older man watches her every move thru a video camera placed overhead as he begins the cycle. The cycle is what makes this film at times hard to watch and adds a firm addition to the torture p*rn collection of films. Using methods such as brainwashing, noise torture, depravation, and a series of psychological mind games they break her down day by day. In fact, the process worsens as it progresses. Food often arrives as raw meat or a decapitated pigs head left for her to pick from. Water is supplied per the same toilet that she has to piss in.
Mr. Green who only refers to her as Sharon begins to change her thru emotionally draining and physically abusive techniques. Occasionally 3 militant men come in to relocate her to a visual brainwashing session that culminates eventually into body torture. The film is powerful portrayal of the kind of things they dare don’t speak of but at the same time find necessary to protect our country. In fact, the mind games continue as she’s plucked away and returned to her room by 2 men who call themselves independent contractors. Her limits are tested even to the point of making her kill for them to pledge allegiance to their cause. It’s as realistically extreme as it gets without going into serial killer gadgets and fancy torture props.
Lena Bookall gives an emotionally draining performance in a film that would test any actors abilities in the emotional ranges of levels. Hysterical most of the time, she toughs it out and succumbs to the methodology. I think viewers will put the pieces together from inferred subject matter to look at our government forces in a different light. John Forgeham plays it cool and calculated but at the same time terrifyingly cold. The tension mounts pretty heavily as we anticipate the next move in humiliation or inflicted pain. Meanwhile other male informants are kept in rooms and tortured even more brutal than the last.
The film is directed by Eric Forsberg and probably kept under the radar with its previously uninspiring title of “Pledge of Allegiance”. Though the Echo Bridge folks got it right by changing the title to something more compelling to interested viewers in a damn fine film. Torture room is brilliantly perverse! It will give you nightmares for days upon viewing.