Directed by Adrian Garcia Bogliano and Ramiro Garcia Bogliano
What is it about eclipses that capture the human imagination? These phenomena are a marvel to experience (through the safety of a telescope, of course) and their odd appearance trigger something whimsical in the mind’s eye that they is easy fodder for creating stories built around the strange and bizarre. Sometimes the eclipse motif is misused (Twilight: Eclipse), but the directors Bogliano deliver an oddly intriguing tale in their film, Penumbra.
IFC Films brings us an import from Argentina that saying it has a unique plot would be a bit of an understatement. After the film kickoffs with an impromptu kidnapping of a young girl who responds to a classified ad, it transitions into the main storyline of feisty lawyer Marga (Cristina Brondo) in negotiations of renting out an apartment to an odd real estate company. This transaction certainly becomes more than she bargained for once she learns that her ready and willing clientele have more in mind than looking for than a place to rest their heads and unfortunately finds herself unintentionally trapped in a dire circumstance.
From the opening scene and the events that follow shortly afterward, it is pretty much obvious that our film’s plot is going to play around the upcoming eclipse that has everyone in the streets all abuzz. After all, the film’s title Penumbra, means “a partial shadow, as in an eclipse, between regions of complete shadow and complete illumination (thanks thefreedictionary.com)”, so if you know that going in, you should expect that an eclipse is going to play a major role. This film is not so much horror as it is a thriller with some dark comedy thrown in for good measure and is thankfully far from the breath of a Hostel or Saw flick. It is more of a morality tale with a bit of zaniness behind the message.
Viewers should be warned. Prepare yourself for a slow burn with a majority of your action happening in the final half hour. And if you do not speak the dialect of this country, get ready to read a good deal of subtitles. That “warning” is just to prepare you for what kind of film you are about to digest, so you can enjoy the ride to the finale which contains extremely good acting from Brondo and Berta Muniz, who plays, Jorge, one of the creepy real estate agents. The direction and editing from the Boglianos is spot on with some excellent lighting choices particularly in both the exterior and elevator scenes. One thing about the finale is that it is an obscure final act, but you can easily and satisfactorily draw your own conclusions.
This is the first film The Man-Cave has covered a motion picture that is strictly from Argentinean cinema descent, so sign me up for more of the country’s film making offerings if this is the type of entertainment they are putting out on a constant basis. Available now on demand through IFC. Check the site in the Links section below for availability in your area.
|3.5 OUT OF 5 CREEPER SANTAS|