More and more films premiere on Video on Demand — if they don’t simply bypass a theatrical release altogether. Because VOD reviews are often scarce and hard to find, Criticwire created VODetails, a recurring column to help you figure out whether a new VOD release is worth your hard-earned dollar. This time we’re looking at “Penumbra,” a horror movie about a cult stalking a woman through a Buenos Aires apartment building. Even worse: the place isn’t rent controlled.
Director: Adrian & Ramiro García Bogliano
Cast: Cristina Brondo, Camila Bordonaba, Sebastian Muniz
Official Synopsis: “Combining stylistic elements of classic Polanski with a contemporary vision that rivals anyone working in horror today, the Bogliano brothers’ ‘Penumbra’ is a superbly realized South American horror slow-burner. Marga is a highly motivated, arrogant and successful businesswoman on assignment in Buenos Aires — a city she hates and whose people she loathes. While in the Argentina capital on a day the whole population is waiting to view a rare solar eclipse she must also find a new tenant for her family’s decrepit apartment. Rapidly losing her patience waiting for one applicant she runs into the mysterious Jorge lurking outside the front door of the place who informs her that he has a client willing to pay four times what she is asking in rent. There’s one catch — the paperwork must be signed immediately. As greedy Marga waits to complete the transaction several of Jorge’s associates suspiciously appear at the apartment ready to strip the wallpaper. And what’s behind the décor signals a startling fate worse than death — or should that be life!”
“The movie is a step forward for the Bogliano brothers.”
“The Bogliano brothers shrewdly exploit viewer ambivalence toward Marga as they ratchet up the suspense. And their final plot twist is all the more satisfying for having the flavor of just deserts.”
“A weird, quiet, and novel little horror import that goes a few places you might expect, but also a few you might not.”
“A film with promise, solid performances and with perhaps a few tweaks, could’ve made for a much more satisfying thriller.”
“The crumbling building and the conviction Brondo has that civilization in the city is following suit give ‘Penumbra’ an interesting undercurrent of privileged panic, but the film’s reveal is a disappointing anticlimax.”
“Penumbra” is now available on VOD, and is playing in limited release.