Peter Marshall in 'The Horseman' (Australia, 2008)

Revenge may be a dish best served cold, but there's nothing quite like meting out instant vengeance with a blowtorch and a pair of pliers. In the world according to Steven Kastrissios' The Horseman, it's a testicle for a vagina instead of an eye for an eye.

Christian Forteski (Peter Marshall) is devastated when he learns that his daughter has died, but he completely falls apart when he's informed that she overdosed on drugs. His grief turns to unbridled anger when he receives a videotape in the mail, showing several men having sex with the glassy-eyed, sad-looking young woman, and he sets off to kill the bastards.

It doesn't feel accurate to describe The Horseman as a "thriller" because there's nothing in it that provides typical action movie thrills: no car chases, no wisecracks to relieve the tension, no triumphant moments of celebration. It's a movie to be endured rather than enjoyed, which doesn't mean the film lacks artistry or restraint. Writer/director Steven Kastrissios creates a pulverizing experience, yet for all the blood, broken bones, and brutality, The Horseman holds back at key moments, allowing the mind to fill in the blanks of (most of) the money shots.

Make no mistake, however: the pit of my stomach was pleading for release from the very first sequence.