Jun 3, 2015

Director: Fred Vogel
Stars: Cristie Whiles, Fred Vogel, Shelby Lyn Vogel

This is the film that people tend to say is the weakest of the trilogy. They either say that, or they say they haven’t seen it at all. I wonder if this is because they couldn’t bring themselves to watching it after they saw Mordum. Or maybe it was just because the films were hard to find. Either way, I think this film was a great way to close the trilogy.

The title, Penance, indicates some sort of closure to the trilogy. Surprisingly, there is closure at the end of this film. I did not find any new reveals very revolutionary in regard to the plot or the characters. I also didn’t find the film any more disturbing than the others. The effects really didn’t take anything to the next level, but Mordum really couldn’t be beat anyway. I really think my apathetic approach to this film is due to the fact they really hit their peak with the second film. You couldn’t get any better in the effects world and I couldn’t be any more disturbed than I was when I finished watching Mordum.

Like Star Wars and The Godfather, this trilogy peaked at part 2. I didn’t hate it, but I have to admit that I was getting a little bit tired of the entire premise. Despite some of my annoyances with this film, it does have some pretty memorable scenes. The baby scene, will turn many people off. I, however, didn’t find it incredibly surprising. I mean, it was the only thing they hadn’t done at this point. In my eyes, the most disturbing scene was the home invasion scene. It was raw and mean-spirited to say the least. They did a great job of drawing it out and making it as uncomfortable as possible. I also like the fact that at least one of the main characters cracked. They waited until the last two minutes of the trilogy before showing any humanity from either character. This is a memorable ending that really helps the title make sense.

One thing that I really didn’t like was the fact that they went digital with the filming. I hope this was because they were trying to portray the passage of time and technological advances; however, I loved the dirty VHS quality captured by the first two films. This one just didn’t feel as grimy. Now it’s still pretty damn sick. You try watching all three of these films in three nights and not experience some sense of desensitization. Whether I was becoming desensitized or bored doesn’t really matter. What matters is that the films are truly interesting studies of the darkest aspects of human nature. The final film actually raises some pretty interesting questions about the word penance itself.

By the time this film viewing excursion was over, I realized that this is an incredibly important set of films. The Toetag crew was one of the first groups of people who really showed what could be done on a small budget. They also pushed the limits of extreme cinema to a new level and taught us all something about realism in gore effects. You can find this company on Facebook and stay up to date on their most recent film releases. As for this film, I will keep my disturbing rating at an 8/10. I have to drop my effects score to a 7/10. I think this drop is partially to blame for the digital picture quality. It just changed the way I felt about the gore. Overall, I will give the film a 6/10.

This makes my overall rankings of the films complete, Mordum with winning it all, August Underground coming in second, and Penance bringing up the rear. In the end, Penance is not any better or any worse than the August Underground. It just doesn’t have the same amount of shock value after seeing the other two.