27 October 2014

PENNY DREADFUL/2006

There is another film out there with the title Penny Dreadful. This is the 2006 film and is not to be confused with the 2005 film with the exact some name which I have not seen. Kind of wish I had not seen this one really. I could tell it was a hitchhiker/slasher film set in the deep woods somewhere. I have seen plenty of those, can’t even remember all of them. Usually have a little fun with them. Don’t expect that much from this sort of film. Some gruesome torture and maybe a little flesh eating, nothing too extreme.  But after seeing too many I guess I am apt to expect something that at least brings the film up to the level of a middle of the road hitchhiker/slasher flick. No such luck here. In fact I was sort of hoping the title somehow was going to tie into the British horror story books that were called Penny Dreadfuls, but I could tell by the poster art that that was a long shot. In fact it was a no shot. The Penny of the title (in fact you could have just left the word Penny out of the title and you would have a good one word review of the film) is a whiny, nervous, neurotic teenage girl. She is so whiny and annoying that she makes Belle of the Twilight films look like Margaret Thatcher in her prime. The character is played by the cute to look at Rachel Miner, but looks aren’t everything. She is known mostly for her TV work and her acting skills, which are not that bad really, seem more appropriate for small screen work than for lead work in a motion picture. Well, unless the film itself is not really not worth watching and then it does not matter much. Penny suffers from some sort of fear of automobiles that finds it source in her witnessing both her parents die in a car wreck when she was a kid. She needs to get over this phobia so she can stop riding her bike all the time.

Well to the rescue comes best selling author and condescending, patronizing therapist Orianna Volks (!) played by Mimi Driver. The dialog between Penny and Orianna is the worst of the film. In fact it is the only dialog in the film really.  Orianna all but slaps the piss out of the pathetic Penny and we almost want her to, but I guess that would violate some professional ethics. She figures all Penny needs is a long ass road trip with her prickly personality, back to the scene of the accident that traumatized her for life and then she will be all okay and can get rid of that silly bicycle. Of course that is a really bad idea. When your gas is pumped by people like Michael Berryman –the actor from the original The Hills Have Eyes who suffers from a rare disease that leaves him without things like teeth, fingernails, sweat glands or hair on his body and a naturally creepy appearance - you know you should have maybe stayed home and rode your bike on Xanax instead.

Dumb ass doc Volks gives a lift to an obviously troubled hitchhiker for no better reason than that she almost killed him while bitching at Penny again. The scene of the three of them in the car together trying to get some small talk going is simply awful. Poor dialog and acting and directing and editing. May as well complain about the music too I guess. No tension is created whatsoever. When the guy pulls out a skewer of raw meat and offers the snack to the ladies it comes off as nothing more than a cheap shot gimmick. In fact everything in the film starts going downhill fast from here. Cardboard characters are introduced for no other reason than having them killed off later. The death scenes are weak. Not violent enough to make the long wait worth it all. There is even a naked boob shot. Totally cheap. Boobs were hip in the 70’s and for some of the 80’s and for Troma type films now, but it is just another cheap shot. Don’t get me wrong, I like boobs, but they are not going to help this film. And in the end the weakest aspect of this already weak entry into the hitchhiker/slasher oeuvre is the slasher himself (or herself? Seems to be some gender ambivalence going on here and the character is played by actress Liv Davies but I was never clear what was going on). Just not a scary slasher in any sense and when he/she laughs it is like one of those old scary movie TV hosts, complete with echo and reverb on the laugh as well. Most of the movie is spent watching goddamned Penny cry and shiver and squeeze her little rubber toy and control her breathing. Too much time is spent watching her alone in the car doing nothing but shaking and crying.  It was during this part that a really bad thing, in terms of my movie watching habits go, happened. I began fast forwarding the film and looking to see how much time was left. Honestly, nothing was happening. I did not know if I could take one more artsy ass close of her wide open eye from different angles. I expected the ending to be weak but it was worse than I thought. Who cares who the director was. Dreadful, just dreadful. 













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