Reuniting several key players from Rob Zombie’s Halloween II, Penance Lane tells a story of a recently-released convict, who seeks out a house with hidden money, as instructed by his cellmate.
What he finds however, in this small rural town, is a dark, disturbing secret, as well as his own redemption, when he finds innocent people worth protecting.
Spoilers Ahead – You’ve Been Warned
Hostel Meets People Under the Stairs
Initially we’re not sure if this house on the titular Penance Lane is supernatural or not. All we know is that there seem to be mutated dwellers in the basement who wreak havoc upon those who enter.
Their makeup effects are legitimately grotesque and it’s the best part of the movie. When we finally get to see the organ-harvesting facility, it’s creepy and campy, and everything that a low budget B-movie horror film should be! Unfortunately it just takes a bit too long to get there.
One More of Everything
No, we don’t necessarily mean one more kill. Rather, this movie really just needed one more draft of the script, one more take for each line read, one more of everything just to polish it a bit more.
It has some genuinely interesting ideas, and some great makeup and production design, but all of this is severely held back by awkward, unrealistic dialogue and acting that seems uninterested and uninspired.
And the thing is, these actors have done well in other movies, so perhaps they just weren’t given much guidance with directing. At times, it gets just as hammy as Sharknado, but it lacks the self-aware sense of humor, taking itself quite seriously.
Even the “twist” of Father John being the ultimate villain doesn’t work because we only ever see him in once scene (the one where we meet him), before his sinister intentions are revealed.
Ultimately, Penance Lane is a cool premise, which could have been great with the right screenwriter/director. Instead it just settles for mediocre…