Directed by Richard Brandes
Written by Diane Doniol-Valcroze & Arthur Flam
Starring: Rachel Miner, Mimi Rogers, and Chad Todhunter, and Michael Berryman
Young Penny goes on a retreat with her psychologist; the intention is to help her overcome her phobia, an intense fear of cars. Unexpected events find her in a nightmarish situation where her worst fears come true.
Rachel Miner (Supernatural), who portrays Penny, is a horror superstar in this anxiety-ridden psychological-slasher. Possibly influenced by every single horror film before it, Penny Dreadful is equal parts horror cliché that works for a couple of reasons. Resolute to pull from every horror scenario available, we’re treated to things like mentally traumatized protagonists, a hands-on psychologist (Mimi Rogers), experimental treatments, creepy hitchhikers, dense forests, and so on. Penny Dreadful never loses sight of what its endgame is. Despite the horror amalgam, I enjoyed this film.
Penny’s psychologist, Dr. Volkes (Rogers), persuades Penny into taking a road trip to help re-introduce cars back into her life. Still fragile from witnessing a tragedy at a young age, Penny’s intensely fearful behavior was a treat to watch. Miner put it all into this raw and broken character. Her performance is half the success of the film. The slow and methodical killer also helps. The movie keeps your brain busy, racing to find a suitable antagonist, as the horror unfolds. You won’t find out the killer until the last 10-15 minutes of the movie. Turns out the killers is a [MESSAGE TRUNCATED], another horror trope thrown in for good measure.
Aside from one too many horror clichés within the film, I enjoyed it. It’s tense and thrilling thanks to the direction and Miner’s balls-out delivery. This kid endures some freaking trauma throughput the film. She starts off with a shitload of baggage, something she struggles against the entire length of the film. Penny is an entirely different girl in the end. Great October movie material.