Penny survived a motor accident that claimed the lives of her parents and left her traumatized for years. The movie Penny Dreadful picks up many years after the accident as Penny’s therapist, Orianna is trying to help her get over her fear of automobiles by traveling with her to the place where the accident occurred. It all goes wrong after they hit a hitchhiker, injuring him, but not so badly and they offer to give him a ride to his destination.
The hitchhiker turns out to be an escaped mental patient from a criminally insane facility. The hitchhiker tortures Penny and what was once her worst fear, automobiles, becomes her sanctuary as she attempts to get away from the hitchhiker who kills all those who try to help Penny.
This is a low budget movie with the main action taking place in a car but somehow the producers manage to thrill the audience with a lot of suspense and heart stopping moments. Like most horror movies, the viewer identifies a lot with the protagonist, who is Penny but there is so much more to scream about and send chills down your spine as the dreadful villain attacks all those who try to help Penny.
While it is a horror movie with the usual spilling of blood, it is still not so off-putting, even with its R rating for violence, language, and sexual content. Yes, there is a sex scene in the movie and a bit of nudity for those who believe every movie should have a bit of that.
Many critics would question the ability of the director to create a captivating movie with a car being the main location of most of the action. Richard Brandes showed that indeed it is possible. Just as other movies have been centered around a phone booth or a boat and still managed to thrill the audience.
When it comes to the performance by the actors, Rachael Miner does put up a convincing performance as Penny. Any movie that has the protagonist secluded in one place for the major part of the movie is going to ask a lot not just of the director but the actor as well to remain entertaining when they have no one to talk to. Penny Dreadful was well acted by Miner and the fear in her eyes looks real as well as the determination to survive.
Mimi Rodgers too was quite impressive. It is not easy to play a dead body. Many movies would prefer to use a dummy but Mimi Rodgers who plays the therapist did an outstanding job in her role
While Penny Dreadful is deserving of a 4-star rating, it does take one too much of a typical horror movie development as well as ending especially where you are left wondering whether the villain is dead and gone or may still rise to cause more havoc. It also seems to take its time to progress which is probably why the sex scenes had to be added with characters that add very little to the development of the plot. The 3 characters are just a touch of suspense, a chance for a body count and the sex to spice the movie but even without them, the movie would still progress smoothly.
At the end of it all, it is Penny Dreadful is a great horror story and a movie that managed to impress despite the low budget.