Written by: Michael Den Boer on November 24th, 2009
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 2009
Director: Jake Kennedy
Writer: Jake Kennedy
Cast: Marieh Delfino, Graham McTavish, Alice Amter, Jason Connery, Valorie Hubbard, Lochlyn Munro, Allison Lange, Michael Rooker, Tony Todd, James Duval, Eve Mauro
DVD released: November 17th, 2009
Approximate running time: 82 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
DVD Release: IMDFILMS
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Synopsis: A single mother desperate to make money to help pay for her daughters escalating medical bills, she reluctantly takes a job a stripper when her friend who was originally offered the job is unable to go because she was recently assaulted. From the get go she feels uneasy about the job. She is taken to a secret location to dance for a mysterious client. Shortly after she arrives at the location, her worst fears are realized when her mysterious client reveals his intentions.
The narrative structure of Penance is told via a series of POV and on camera documentary style footage which pieces together what happened to a young woman named Amelia. This style of cinematography lends itself to the voyeuristic story at hand for the most part. At the heart of Amelia journey into darkness is a psychopath who has captured other women like her. Once he lures and traps his victims he takes them through a series of tests to ‘purify’ them from their past sins. Some of the ways he keeps his victims in line include having them whipped, tasered and removing their clitoris. The subject matter at hand is not that easy to digest and while the intention was to make a horror film, the events that unfold on screen are more like horrific than they are scary. As gut wrenching as the subject matter at hand is what makes this film work as well as its does is the performances of Marieh Delfino in the role of Amelia and Graham McTavish in the role of Geeves her captor / tormentor. The role of Geeves is very loosely based on the crimes of an Australian surgeon named Graeme Stephen Reeves. Another performance of note is Michael Rooker (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer), who is cast in the role of a hit-man who works for Geeves.
Penance is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. This is a strong looking progressive flagged transfer that looks clean, detailed and colors and flesh tones look accurate throughout.
This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in English. The audio sounds clear and balanced throughout.
Extras for this release include R Rated and Unrated trailers for the film, three alternate endings, five deleted /extended scenes, a segment titled “Location Scout” (4 minutes 37 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), a segment titled “Anatomy of a Scene” (13 minutes 52 seconds – letterboxed widescreen), which is a in depth look at a scene from the film and its evolution from rehearsal to filming and a segment titled “How to Strip like Marieh and Eve” (2 minutes 50 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), which is essential an unedited version of footage that appears in the film. Other extras include an interview with writer / director Jake Kennedy (18 minutes 54 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and a segment titled “Interviews with the ‘Cast’ in Character” (12 minutes 8 seconds – letterboxed widescreen). The interview with Jake Kennedy gives a thorough overview about what it is like to make an independent film, while the ‘Cast’ members interviews in character is an amusing extra at best. The main extras included with this release are two audio commentaries. The first audio commentary is with director Jake Kennedy and the second audio commentary with also with Jake Kennedy and producer William Clevinger. The two audio commentaries are well rounded detailed accounts about the pre-production, the filming and the cast. Rounding out the extras is a behind the scenes featurette (23 minutes 37 seconds – letterboxed widescreen), which includes comments from the cast, the crew and the director. Also included with this release is a promo / trailer reel for other films also available from IMDFilms. Overall Penance gets a first rate DVD release from IMDFilms.