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WRITTEN REVIEW: Penny Dreadful

Even though I am not a huge fan of horror as a whole, I’ve still been asked to participate in this “Seven Levels of Netflix Hell” thing that we at Simplistic Reviews are doing with the great folks here at Slaughter Film. Luckily, I ended up being able to review something that actually transcended my own mistrust of the genre.

Bond, Bond Girl & Bunraku of Showtime's Penny Dreadful.

That something is the 2014 Showtime television series Penny Dreadful, produced by John Logan. It’s a gothic horror series about classic horror characters from the past interacting in the same universe, including Frankenstein, Van Helsing and Dorian Gray. It stars a triumphantly returning Josh Hartnett, the always interesting Timothy Dalton, and Eva Green; a woman and an actress that I don’t even need to elaborate on how much I love. It’s a dark, grimy, and spooky show that I totally recommend you all check... Wait a second.

I’ve just been handed a piece of paper here. Hold on.

Um, apparently I was NOT told to review the 2014 Showtime television series Penny Dreadful, produced by John Logan. I was told to review the 2006 horror film Penny Dreadful, produced by some guy named Richard Brandes. It’s totally fine. As a film and TV reviewer, sometimes these things happen. Just hold on one sec. I’ll watch this other Penny Dreadful and be right back.

Do you want to ask me about my career? I was married to Tom Cruise you know.

Okay. I’m back. WHAT IN THE BLUE F%@K DID I JUST WATCH?!? The film Penny Dreadful is NOT about classic horror characters from the past interacting in the same universe, and DOES NOT star Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton and Eva Green. It IS about amaxophobia (Amaxophobia is a fear of cars before you ask and a better title for this film than Penny Dreadful by the way.) and stars Rachel Milner from…hmm...which miniscule acting credit should I pick here…ah…Supernatural, and Mimi Rogers of all people. Rogers, if I had to guess, was forced at gunpoint to do this film or a child of hers was kidnapped Tom Skerritt in Ted style.

Penny Dreadful tells the story of a young lady named Penny who tries to overcome her fear of cars (Giggle) by going on a road trip with her shrink, Orianna. Her fear is brought on by a gruesome childhood accident that takes the life of her parents. The hell that awaits both Penny and Orianna is something that you’ll never see coming. No, that’s a lie. You see absolutely everything coming. That being said, I really don't want to spoil this ironically rotten movie. I’ll just say we see Penny’s fear of being in a car tested in absolutely every...possible...never-ending...monotonous...drawn out detail.

Take a good look. This scene is 65% of the movie.

Penny Dreadful is a horror film that hits every single trope that turns me off to the horror genre. Yes, all genres have annoying tropes, but horror tropes really seem to rub me the wrong way.
A. Forced encounter with an obviously creepy stranger? Check.
B. Easily avoidable danger that is somehow not avoided? Check.
C. Loss of cell phone reception? Check.
D. Stupid decision making lazily attributed to panic? Check.
E. Tripping and falling at inopportune times? Check.
F. Bystanders who don’t listen to a person in peril? Check.
G. An ordinary killer with oddly superhuman abilities? Check.
H. Consensual sex that somehow becomes catnip for carnage? Discount Double Check.

Oh, and the music stingers and cheap jump scares, my god! It was like the music supervisor and the editor were having a contest to see who could annoy the viewer the most. No lie, there is a cheap jump scare in the first 15 seconds of this film. That has to be a record. But for all of the tactless editing and laughably loud music cues, the film just isn’t scary. It wants to be, but there is nothing done in this film that you haven’t seen done better by better before. The scariest thing in this car fear film is the potholes and the plot holes. No seriously… they drive over some potholes in an effort to scare the viewer…. Oh, and it’s scary how little sense this friggin’ movie makes.

BMW and California are ashamed to be associated with this film.

When it comes to performances, Rachel Milner does her best to make you hate her. Now I don’t have an uncontrollable fear (Unless you count my feelings toward Michael Bay films), but if I did, I would think I’d have the common sense to put self-preservation in front of it. Milner’s hysterical antics throughout the film are a mere step above student acting. Whenever she isn’t overly freaking out, she is as vacant as a bed bug infested motel. And speaking of vacant, Mimi Rogers is merely going through the motions here. I mean, I struggle for grocery money too, but I’m not sure if lending my name to a film as scary and believable as Scooby Doo would be a resort I’d take. Who am I kidding? I’d be an extra in a Levitra commercial for a bag of Sun Chips.

The only reason the word “dreadful” should have been added to this film’s title is if the filmmakers were trying to make an effort to lend truth to advertising. If you want to see a movie about a girl forever changed by a car accident, watch Another Earth or maybe Herbie: Fully Loaded. If you want to be scared through an experience involving automobiles, go down to the DMV and renew your license. If you want to still watch this...hop onto your Netflix...grab an apple and a water bottle...try not to accept any random meat from strangers...pop some pills...do your breathing exercises...watch it...then tell me I’m wrong.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But sometimes a motion picture is only worth one. Simplistic Reviews gives you a minimum one word review from avid film buffs Justin Polizzi, Matthew Stewart and DJ Valentine. If one isn't enough, you can read on and enjoy their further analysis of the film or television show. Simplistic Reviews is, for lack of a better word, GOOD.




Gex said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gex said...

Damnit, you had me going there for a minute.

Could we get a review of the series and not the piece of shit movie? The series was awesome, and has been renewed for a 2nd season from what I've heard.