The Tortured

The Tortured Ending Explained- Vengeance And Grief Make Us Do Dumb Things

The Tortured is an unrelenting look at the cost of succumbing to grief with a killer twist. Revenge is a dish best avoided.

The revenge thriller The Tortured by writer Marek Posival and director Robert Lieberman begins in one of the most painful ways possible and only gets worse. On the worst day of a young couple’s life, their six-year-old son is kidnapped from the front yard. Before the police find him, he dies. At the trial, the murderer is sentenced to twenty-five years to life, which means he will be eligible for release. Enraged, Craig and Elise vow to take matters into their own hands and exact the punishment he deserves.

This concise film is comprised of two acts. The opening is the portrait of a family ruined. A happy young couple played by Jesse Metcalfe and Erica Christensen have their lives ripped apart when their child is killed. Their pain causes them to lash out at each other. Vignettes of a happier time are spliced between tragic court scenes and even more difficult arguments between the Landrys. We see the day their child is taken through Craig’s eyes. His panic and guilt are palpable. Elyse feels the loss of her child deep inside. It is as if a part of her was destroyed. They are both overcome by the injustice.

The Tortured
Official Trailer screengrab

The second is a deep dive into what humans are capable of when they are pushed too far. The Landrys give the appearance of being ordinary, well-adjusted people. When faced with the loss of their child, they descend into madness fueled by anger and sorrow. In a series of progressively uglier torture scenes, the Landrys burn, slice, crush and poke the inmate’s body. Both Craig and Elyse revel in the torture and are disgusted by it at different times.

What happens at the end of The Tortured?

The inmate the Landrys have been torturing escapes and limps to a barn on the property. He writes a suicide note, and just as the couple finds him, he hangs himself, and the letter falls out of his hand. The man that hung himself was the man who the Landrys had been torturing. He was not the man who killed their child though. Shortly after the couple takes the prisoner who had been thrown from the back of the van, the real killer escaped from the crash with a minor leg wound. In the confusion, Craig and Elise saw an orange jumpsuit with a badly injured face and body and they assumed it was their son’s killer. It was not.

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The Landry’s only managed to kidnap and torture a tax evader. Even after learning they had taken a man who remembers nothing, they decided to continue torturing him because they don’t believe him. He was able to produce their son’s name not because he was the one to took him but because the Landrys had mentioned his name shortly after taking Galligan. Their son’s killer does get apprehended again but not before the Landrys’ victim Galligan escapes and hangs himself. The Landrys cover up the crime scene and bury Galligan’s body, unaware of what else has transpired.

The Tortured
Official Trailer screengrab

Why Did He Hang Himself?

The Landrys’ victim was not their son’s killer. He was another criminal who had been convicted of fraud and tax evasion. That man, Galligan, had amnesia caused by the crash. We don’t know precisely what he had done in the past but likely not child murder. In his suicide note, he expresses remorse. Either he became convinced by what the Landry’s said, and with no memory of his former self, that is possible, or he has other things to atone for. Based on the letter, he now believed he was a killer. He also couldn’t take any more of the torture and chose to end his life rather than risk getting caught again and abused any longer.

Nothing I can say will ever ease the pain I have caused, and I fully deserve what you are about to do to me. I am an abomination, but I am also a coward. On top of everything, I know I must die, but I can’t take the torture. I’m sorry.


Galligan had no context for the Landry’s rage, and faced with the pain they were willing to inflict; he began to believe he had kidnapped and killed their child. With no memory of himself before the crash, he had no way of knowing that he was guilty of fraud, but not murder. Rather than risk any more pain, he chose to end his life. He had fully embraced the falsehood the Landrys had inadvertently told him.

What happens now?

Likely the Landrys will find out they tortured the wrong guy as soon as they turn on the television or the radio. They both had moments where they felt conflicted about what they were doing. That was when they thought they were violating their son’s killer. What will the knowledge that they abused the wrong guy do to them? These two were driven by a need to exact revenge on the person who destroyed their life. In the end, they only succeeded in shredding the last vestiges of humanity they had left.

The Tortured is torturous. It’s a tough watch because the gore is well done, and the creative violence will make you want to look away. In the end, The Tortured is about Galligan, who was tortured by the Landrys, and these poor parents who were tortured by their son’s murder. The Landrys buried the body and cleaned the crime scene, but they can’t clean the stain on their soul or heal the pain in their hearts. The parents’ pain sells both the levels of depravity the couple is willing to sink to and the mistakes they make. When you are so blinded by rage and grief, you can see only revenge mistakes are going to happen.