Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"Penance" (director: Jake Kennedy)

This indie torture/horror flick "inspired by true events" manages to out-fox some similar higher-profile films, with a rather tried-and-true premise, but with solid acting and some fun genre cameos & casting. Starring the likable Marieh Delfino, this is a tale of a modest single mom (Amelia) who, down on her luck, resorts to stripping to make some quick cash to stay afloat. Well, in one of her first jobs, she ends up abducted by a religious-oriented madman and a skeleton crew of sadistic, proto-fascist lackeys. The enigmatic and stately Gavin McTavish stars as the fallen doctor who subjects the amoral strippers (including the innocent Amelia) to all sorts of "moral tests" to rehabilitate them and cleanse their souls in penance. Things get ugly, naturally. This one's bloody and sometimes shocking, but the gore is more implied and never truly on-camera. My favorite scenes are the cat and mouse games in the hallways of the "hospital", where the hand-held cameras succeed in creating an air of tension and distress. Fine work. Look for Michael Rooker ("Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer") and Tony Todd ("Candyman") among the worthy guest appearances. Delfino is cool, appealing, and convincing as Amelia, and McTavish is a perfect villain. Good stuff, and worthy of attention from horror fans. (IMD - Independent Media Distribution)

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