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August Underground: Penance(2007)(Review)

Our friends at Unearthed Films have brought us the final piece in the August Underground puzzle of the macabre: Penance. This film continues where we left off with ‘Mordum’, following the lives of serial killers Peter & Crusty. The madness continues as they travel about and have fun with each other, take time to kidnap and torture people, and descend into spirals of their own sanity and morality.

‘Penance’ is easily the darkest film in the series. While ‘Mordum’ is arguably the most violent and depraved of the series, this one hits some new lows in very interesting ways. As their passion for each other grows stronger, it gets pushed to its limits as they dig deeper into their own pools of what they themselves can handle.
The film begins with the standard approach as the others had, but by the midway point something happens. Early on we get the standard torture and dismemberment we are familiar with from the others – however there is a significant jump in the quality of the gore effects and the violence itself. It’s also worth noting that the series makes a technological leap to where it’s now shot on digital and is much easier to watch.

As this all plays out in traditional fashion, there is a very notorious scene that happens at the midway point that involves a home invasion on Christmas Eve. The two anti-heroes enter a home late at night, beat the man of the house with a hammer so he’s hardly conscious on the kitchen floor, and then strangle the wife before attempting to assault her. As this is playing out, their young daughter comes out to see what’s going on and Crusty strangles her to death. All the while, the family is in their pajamas, the Christmas tree is lit up, and there’s adorable toys in motion underneath the tree that make a very disturbing and pitch-black comedic contrast with everything going on. There’s something very emotional and heart-wrenching about someone being strangled to death in their penguin-laden pajamas while the person killing you is opening your presents and rubbing your would-be toys in your face… As the family dies, Peter takes a shower and Crusty cuddles up with the corpses (and her new teddy bear) on the floor under the tree.

This is where the film psychologically begins to crawl under the porch to die.

As the next few scenes of torture take place back at the house, something happens between Peter & Crusty and they begin to fight a lot. As they take their anger towards each other out on their victims, a real low is hit when Peter disembowels a heavily pregnant woman and rips out the fetus – this sends Crusty into a layer of Hell where she’s crying and begging for death for the remainder of the film, while Peter just shows resentment towards her and takes his anger (and lust) out on the people in his basement.

This movie is harrowing in ways that these films have definitely touched on in the past, but it does go into a direction that we haven’t really seen yet. It feels far more mature (in a very weird-to-say way) while giving the viewer far more viscera and gore than they had in the past. It’s a tough, depressing watch that is a perfect conclusion to one of the most troubling horror trilogies of the 21st century.

Unearthed Films have given us a beautiful transfer of this film on a collector’s edition Bluray that features extended & deleted scenes, 2 music videos, a still gallery and trailers, brand new interviews with various people involved with the production, and a beautiful slipcover & posters that are available for a very limited time right


‘Til Next Time,
Mike Cleopatra

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