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Penance

3.2 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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(Nov 17, 2009)
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Editorial Reviews

Based on a true character, and from the award winning horror writer/director of 'Days of Darkness', and the producer of the indie horror hit 'Automaton Transfusion', comes a cautionary tale that will make you squirm and twist in your seat. With unrelenting suspense and terror, Penance is the tale of a young, demure single mother, Amelia (Marieh Delfino), who hits upon hard times and decides to take her future into her own hands and becomes a stripper. Everything is going well until Suzy, her stripper friend, is beaten up on a job and recruits Amelia to take her place. Reluctantly, Amelia takes the job, only to find the job isn't everything it seems. Driven to a strange location by a dark and mysterious man (Tony Todd), and confronted by a grizzled hit man (Michael Rooker), Amelia's world is turned upside down, as her captor (the mind bending Graham McTavish), is intent on one thing and one thing only - to purify Amelia and the other women in his incarceration.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Tony Todd, Lochlyn Munro, James Duval, Jason Connery, Marieh Delfino, Graham McTavish, Eve Mauro, Alice Amter, Tracy Coogan. Michael Rooker
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: IMDFILMS
  • DVD Release Date: November 17, 2009
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002M9FXNQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,750 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Penance" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Steve Kuehl VINE VOICE on December 5, 2009
Format: DVD
I ordered this for my customers who dig this kind of Hostel - The Director's Cut [Blu-ray]-like film depravity, and in this case coupled with the now-common first person video camera feel (ala [Rec], Quarantine and twenty others).

The story is all shown through "obtained" video camera footage found in an abandoned southern California institution. Footage purportedly from/by a victim's camera - one of many tortured ladies at the hands of a mutilation-prone physician (injuring both himself and many others). The premise of this is reportedly based upon the story/circumstances of the real Graeme Reeves, even inclusive of a text-ending stating how he has still escaped prosecution and has not been caught (in reality he is in prison awaiting trial overseas). Putting aside the film has really nothing to do with the guy, you get a well-acted low-budget take on this popular genre. Rooker is outstanding, though he only gets a few scenes. The torture scenes are tough, and if this were rated I am sure it would be in the NC-17 range. A musical score was added to further the impossibility of how certain scenes could be filmed or how this cut was edited, but if you skip the analysis of logistics and watch the performances you will get more out of it.

Supplements are lengthy and include:
* Three alternate endings.
Read more ›
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Penance basically involves the story of a woman who becomes a stripper to raise money for her sick child. On the way, she is hired by an unusual customer and soon she finds herself trapped in a prison run by a man who seems to want to help her repent her sins through pain. The film is shot in first person, which I thought worked well for the movie. The story in my view was surprisingly interesting and well-done. It was rather unusual, as the main antagonist provided a glimpse into a different kind of killer, one who thinks what he is doing is for the benefit of his victims. A few disturbing scenes, yet it was not incredibly gory, at least from my point of view. Acting was well done for the most part, especially the antagonist, who did a wonderful job playing a psychopath. If you are the kind of person who enjoys movies that are disturbing and present a rather dark atmosphere, then I would recommend this movie. Overall it was a decent horror movie that presents a lasting impact, not only for its rather disquieting scenes but for its psychological implications as well.
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I'm just tired of the handheld found footage genre. It needs a rest. This starts off decent but delves into another genre that is getting tired: the torture genre. If you still aren't tired if these two genres, then you could do a lot worse. This film delivers what is expected with nudity and violence. I'm just ready for something different in the low budget horror world.
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Format: DVD
Penance is the story of Amelia (Marieh Delfino), a single mother struggling for money, who decides to give stripping a shot. I know what you're thinking, "That never happens." Anyway, she reluctantly accepts a substitute stripping job and finds herself imprisoned by a madman named Geeves (Graham McTavish) who is intent on saving the souls of his young stripper captives through torture and mild asceticism. Shortly after imprisonment, Amelia learns through a beating that captives speak only when spoken to, and one does not simply ask Geeves (sorry). A struggle for survival and escape ensues, as Amelia makes continuously ignorant decisions in her pursuits of getting the whole ordeal on film.

None of these concepts are terribly original, but I suppose the stripper+Hostel formula was inevitable. Honestly, I never thought I would be bored by that near fool-proof formula, but a combination of shaky-cam - as if the torturers would give her a camera to document the atrocities - and subpar script make this a mildly enticing movie, which depends entirely on how much nudity a viewer is expecting from a movie about tortured strippers.

Surprisingly, the performances aren't overwhelmingly bad, despite the fact that none stand out. Actually, the strip-tease performances were atrocious, and I seriously doubt any of the so-called "exotic dancers" made a living without some illegal activity in the champagne room. Tony Todd makes an appearance as a chauffer, and Michael Rooker overacts throughout his brief appearances, but otherwise the film is carried by a fairly competent cast of the lesser known. Perhaps the best aspect of this film is the gory makeup work and special effects (head shot!).

Replete with recycled concepts and the unfortunately ubiquitous shaky-cam, Penance is mediocre at best. Unless the idea of tired torture porn shown through the religious lens of a handheld camera is your thing, I'd suggest skipping it.

Jason Elin
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Is it 1 Star or 5 Stars??? I gave it 5 stars only if you're a hardcore horror/thriller fan. This is definitely not for the squeamish. To many, it could be nauseating...but if you take it at face value and understand the source and purpose of this film, it definitely has the guts (no pun intended) to scare the hell out of you. The scenes are graphic, cruel, psychotic and unprecedented. I'll take a classic horror film any time of day, but this one is horrific, unsettling and offensive. If that's what you like...go for it...you'll get a 5. If not, avoid this at all cost. It is brutal...insensitive...and bone-chilling real. It could...and apparently...has happened..."inspired by true events". Nothing more needs to be said. I probably won't watch it again. Only because there is no longer an element of surprise. I know the end result....now it's your turn for the experience.
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