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The acclaimed Argentinian horror flick gets a standard-def debut....
MPI / 90 Minutes / 2011 / Unrated / Street Date: August 28, 2012
Sometimes I really like knowing only a little bit about a film before I see it. I see the trailer once, get a wild and crazy idea of what the movie must be about, pop in the DVD, and get something totally unexpected. Sadly, this has only happened to me a handful of times because I usually keep my ear to the ground about upcoming movies, especially in the horror film genre. This surprising little Argentine gem is not a straight horror film per se, but has enough creepy elements in it to make me shiver in delight.
The first thing that struck me about this film is the rather strong main character. The main character is the one who viewers naturally relate to, since it is in essence, the movie is her story. The main character in this film is nasty enough to earn the two syllable title of ‘bee-yotch’. She is unpleasant, unfeeling, rude, and manipulative. What makes this film work so well without having a sympathetic character in the lead role is the fact that the antagonists of this movie are even darker. They are cold, malevolent, and seem to multiply every time our main character leaves them alone. She is trying to rent an old apartment that she owns in a city she hates to these zomibified people who insist the transaction be done immediately, and will do just about anything to make sure that it does. I don’t think this movie would have been nearly as effective if the main character was a sympathetic woman being victimized by this arcane bunch. The interaction back and forth between the woman and the group is a nice little tennis match to watch; it’ll leave you wondering who will get the upper hand in the end. Kudos to Penumbra for being one of the few movies out there that can have a despicable main character (dare I say protagonist?) and be a successful film.
The second thing of note in this film is its slightly surreal quality. The weird bunch in her apartment aside, everything that happens to her on this day seems to be just a touch out of the ordinary. She starts out kicking the crap out of a foul mouth homeless man who everyone thinks is a saint (huh?). Then she meets one of her ‘neighbors’, a woman who lives two floors down from the woman’s old apartment who seems a bit light in the head (oh Lord). I think if the main character weren’t so wrapped up in herself and took a moment to really think about the situation she was in, it might have made her nervous. Maybe even a little scared.
The ending just caps off the strange cascade of events that takes place during the whole day. I don’t want to give anything away here, so let’s just suffice it to say that reality can often just be a matter of perspective, with the ‘truth’ being something wandering around out there in the ether, never to be fully grasped. The final few minutes fit the movie well and left me in a place that made me both comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time.