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Penny Dreadful – 4

Director – Richard Brandes

Cast – Rachel Miner, Mimi Rogers, Chad Todhunter, Mickey Jones, Liz Davies, Michael Berryman

Release Year – 2006

Reviewed by John of the Dead

I remember being so excited when the very first After Dark Horrorfest hit theaters nationwide (back when they were actually released nationwide) and one of the few films I did not watch was Penny Dreadful. After years of passing it over I finally decided to give it a go and while I did not expect much I was very surprised that even my low expectations were not met. The story involves several elements that usually make for good tension, and while the tension was fair the faults were numerous, the execution was poor, and Penny Dreadful was dreadful.

Rachel Miner stars as Penny Deerborn, a young adult still recovering from the fateful car wreck that ripped her from her family. While on a retreat with her psychologist in an attempt to overcome her fear of cars they accidentally strike a hitchhiker. Astonished and relieved that he survived the ordeal, they offer him a ride to his destination – a deadly mistake.

This story, which comes from the minds behind indie film Kill By Inches, starts off fairly well, givinig us insight into the reason behind Penny’s disability. They hit the road quickly and soon enough the tension arises when they come across the hitchhiker on the snowy, barren road. The atmosphere is perfect for such a film where our protagonists will be left with little room to run from an overbearing force, which in this film is most obviously the hitchiker. Aside from the atmosphere and the initial tension there is very little else worth mentioning about the story. From then on out the film is riddled with miscues and poor story management that really left me dreading this experience and wishing it was over already. Basically, the story gets an “A” for idea, and an “F” for effort.

Director Richard Brandes did little to improve on the poor story, and somehow managed to also succeed with his atmosphere but fail on ever other level. Poor film quality aside, the look of the film was OK and I enjoyed the sets used to set up the nowhere-to-run horror. I did expect better from the film’s antagonist though. His look was fine and creepy for the most part, but his actions and mannerisms failed to sell the horror. With a story that does not move locations much you really need good direction/tension to keep the viewer engaged, and sadly this experience lacked both.

Overall, Penny Dreadful is a film I did not expect a lot from but still managed to under-deliver thanks to poor writing and directing execution.

Rating: 4/10

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