Monday, November 12, 2007
Posted by JPX
Penny has a phobia of cars, which makes sense given that she was involved in a car accident that led to her parents’ deaths. Now an adult, Penny goes into full fight/flight mode whenever she encounters a motor vehicle. Fortunately for Penny she is working with renowned psychologist, Orianna Volkes, who takes Penny on a weekend retreat to confront the scene of the accident [hmmm, let’s just think about this for a moment. At $125/hour a weekend retreat would net Dr. Volkes a fuckload of money!]. Along the way Dr. Volkes encourages Penny to listen to her relaxation tape and engage in relaxation training [the exact opposite of what you would do when treating someone with a phobia, btw). While attempting to get Penny to relax, Dr. Volkes hits a creepy man crossing a remote section of the highway they are traveling. Although the man is fine, Dr. Volkes offers to give him a ride.
The drive is quite unpleasant for Penny. Not only is she trying hard to keep a lid on her car phobia, but the creepy passenger doesn’t speak nor does he answer any questions. Upon reaching his destination, which is so far off the beaten path that they might as well be on Mars, Dr. Volkes begins to backtrack. The problem is that it’s pitch black and they’re completely lost in the remote wooded nature.
When the two realize that their creepy hitchhiker is nearby, Dr. Volkes drives blindly into the darkness like a bat out of hell. Eventually her careless driving on the off-road track leads to a blown tire. Dr. Volkes decides to wander off in the darkness alone in an attempt to obtain a cell phone signal. This quickly proves to be a bad idea and Dr. Volkes pays with her life. Meanwhile Penny is locked down in the car, where the next hour of the film takes place.
Penny Dreadful, part of the 2006 After Dark Horrorfest, is pretty damn dreadful. Often the death knell for any movie is when belief has to be suspended to the point of absurdity. For Penny to be in the situation she finds herself in, one be on board with a number of ideas including spending a weekend retreat alone with a therapist, picking up an obviously deranged hitchhiker in the middle of nowhere, agreeing to take him off-road, and all of Penny’s behavior that follows.
Most of the film consists of Penny weeping in the car while doing nothing to improve her survival chances. Worse, Penny is annoying. You know a movie’s in trouble when you’re rooting for the heroine to get whacked. With its low body count, very little blood, and a story that could’ve been told in 30 minutes or less, Penny Dreadful is an exercise in patience. After falling asleep during the climax, I had to watch it over again.
I’m in this too for no other reason than to have you remark, “That guy never ages!”
From Wikipedia, “Penny Dreadful was a term applied to nineteenth century British fiction publications, usually lurid serial stories appearing in parts over a number of weeks, each part costing a penny. The term, however, soon came to encompass a variety of publications that featured cheap sensational fiction, such as story papers and booklet “libraries.” The Penny Dreadfuls were printed on cheap pulp paper and were aimed primarily at teenage boys from the working class, though there is some evidence that many girls read them as well.”
at 6:56 AM