Thursday, May 3, 2012

Penumbra (2011)

Fear 3/5
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 4/5
Creepiness 3/5

What a wacky, out of left field, and filled with dark humor little number this one is. It's also a slow, methodical, creeping burner to boot. Penumbra is the type of film whereupon conclusion you'll be exclaiming 'What the fuck did I just watch?'

Marga is a strikingly beautiful albeit bitchy woman. She's in Argentina for a few days, trying to offload the rental of an apartment that her family owns in a sleepy town. She's got places to go and people to do (literally as she's banging it out with a married man) and she has no time for bullshit or games. She needs to rent the place quick and get out of this dumpy town so she can get on with her life, calling the shots at her company, belittling friends and family alike, and having a general disdain for anyone that isn't her.

Enter Jorge, a man with an immediate need for an apartment and just the right tenant to fill the vacancy who will gladly pay more than twice the asking price. Marga, against her better judgement, jumps at the opportunity, disregarding common sense in favor of dollar signs. Jorge says his client will be there soon and he'll be bringing the appropriate paperwork to make this a done deal. After a bit of casual chit-chat, it becomes obvious that Jorge is there to stall things. Marga is completely oblivious though, consumed by her own selfishness and center of the universe tendencies.


Marga decides to leave for a bit as Jorge waits for his client (a man named Salva) and heads to the local store to pick up a few things. She immediately endears herself to a poor beggar, berating him for his filthy existence and then promptly shocking him with her taser. Such a classy gal.  At this point, it's very clear: someone better give this woman a good comeuppance as she is the epitome of an awful human being.


It just so happens that, on that day, a solar eclipse will be taking place. When she gets back to the apartment, she finds a new trio of people have arrived. They initially claim to be a part of the real estate company that Jorge works for. But as they continue to wait for the tardy soon-to-be proprietor, it becomes obvious to Marga that the group has far more sinister intentions. It's subtle at first: using up her prepaid phone minutes and hiding her keys.  But the group then restrain her and reveal to her their plans and that Salva is the man that will be leading the group in a special 'ceremony' during the middle of the eclipse.

From this point on, it is anyone's guess as to what really happens as our film leads up to a startling conclusion. It's one that will divide more than it will bring together. I wavered on this one quite a bit, but overall, I enjoyed it in all its fucked up glory. It's definitely not your typical straightforward genre film. And just when you think it'll steer into familiar territory, well, the ball sails in from left field and smacks you over the head. If nothing else, the film has one of the best beheadings I've ever seen. It's shocking and downright brutal and worth the price of admission alone.

Penumbra is currently available via various VOD services from IFC Midnight.

Cortez the Killer

3 comments:

The Man-Cave said...

Nice review, PoT. I really enjoyed it as a thriller versus a horror film, but the story kept me interested the whole time. Slow burn and all. Also like what they did with the vague ending.

Planet of Terror said...

Thanks homie g funk. It is more of a thriller, you're right. And I liked the vague ending as well. Movies like that are palatable only if the preceding build up and suspense is pulled of well. I enjoyed it.

Sir Phobos said...

You've convinced me yet again. I'm tracking this one down.