Having watched PENNY PALABRAS I was left irritated and dissatisfied with the other reviews of the film on IMDB.
This strange but original, moderately successful horror outing should be more correctly identified as experimental in concept, even avant-garde at times. Director and co-writer Ken Carlson does something quite different with the idea of the cursed family haunted by a demon trope -- in this case, a vaguely human-like Straw Man character that like Pennywise the Clown swoops into our world via some other dimension that is also inhabited by other creatures, which either help or hurt the title character: A lithesome teenager living in a suburban aerie complete with atmospheric forests and swirling ocean-scapes.
Against this natural beauty we follow the plight of Penny's family, which has been reduced to a terrible sort of dysfunction due to interfering, supernatural attacks by the Straw Man. This creature's real target is Penny, whom it chastises and terrorizes for most the film's running time, while she tries the take control of the situation by either destroying the Straw Man (unsuccessfully) or engaging the help of a friendly ghost.
Thematically, PENNY PALABRAS is most concerned with isolation, depression and the damaging effects of barely suppressed family trauma. The family's isolation is centered on a harrowing past event that has twisted the girl's father into an incoherent drunk and turned the mother into a shrill, depressed harpy with no more personal power. The Straw Man exploits all the sadness, loneliness and misery experienced by the family, and tries to drive Penny mad by just simply being everywhere she is. Interestingly, Penny has the ability to interact with recently dead people awaiting transport to the next level of existence. Eventually, the story line gets a bit overloaded with mystical significance -- the final third of the film stretches credulity a bit with time travel thrown in.
The film's blue monochromatic visual style is distractingly beautiful at first, but as Penny's dilemma is revealed it fits the plot-line very well. The visual effects, which are sparingly used, conjures the interior voice of the main character in a haunting, striking manner. It's rare to see shadow effects used so well to convey a character's secret thoughts.
Reviewer complaints about pacing, acting and technical issues are misplaced. The film moves at a dream-like pace for reasons outlined above, and although some of the actors are amateurs the main players are competent. Deena Ingley is good as Penny, alternating between wide-eyed confusion over her life's path and a squinty ferociousness when angered. One can take issue with the presentation of the Straw Man and the two demons that appear in the film. While Carlson seemed to be going for a children's bedtime story approach to visualizing these creatures, the lack of budget really shows in their simple face masks and lack of makeup effects expertise. Although the Straw Man character resembles an overactive Muppet at first, it grows more sinister as the movie progresses, notably in scenes where it appears to float over people and physically enter them to do his dirty work.
Fantasy / Horror
Fantasy / Horror
Penny is searching for ways to banish the Straw Man and protect her family. While seeking solutions, she meets The Librarian, who always seems to know something more than she lets on. The Librarian introduces Penny to The Pawn Broker, a trader of supernatural and rare artifacts, and the Pawn Broker lends Penny the Spectacular Revolver, which Penny plans on using to generate a ghost accomplice that can help her fight against the Straw Man. Penny's actions come to the attention of a Tiger Devil with a mysterious interest in how things will play out. The Tiger Devil offers to help Penny, but she knows that the assistance of such a powerful creature comes with a cost and that devils are not to be trusted.
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
July 17, 2018 at 10:38 AM