Fantastic Fest Review: Penumbra

Posted by Jenni Lee - October 3rd 2011 @ 12:10 am

Directed By: Adrian Garcia Boliano and Ramiro Garcia Boliano
Written By: Adrian Garcia Boliano and Ramiro Garcia Boliano
Run Time: 85 minutes

Penumbra, half-light or semidarkness in Spanish, is an Argentinean horror film which punishes its main actress for her character’s distain of Argentina unrelentingly. Marga (Cristina Bondo) is a high powered lawyer in Spain whose sister is a lazy lay-about. Frustration for Marga sets in when she is attempting to rent an apartment in Argentina that they inherited on the day of a total solar eclipse. In a state of altered realities, brought about by the aforementioned solar eclipse, Marga is bamboozeled by a group of individuals that do not have her best interests in mind.

Writer-Director Adrian Garcia Boliano gained a following during the SXSW 2011 Film Festival with the film Cold Sweat (Sudor Frio). He will probably gain even more of a following from Penumbra, which added a second screening on the first day of Fantastic Fest and had yet a third viewing after that.  Penumbra uses natural phenomenon in conjunction with unnatural phenomenon to drive home its point. It’s billed as a horror movie, but spends the majority of its length as a thriller, only coming to a horrific end both literally and figuratively for Marga’s character.

Bondo shines as a nationalistic Spaniard, who is treated as she treats others.  Meanwhile Jorge Kepler (Berta Muñiz) twists everything that Marga says as a way to manipulate his way into her apartment. He plays his character as a deliciously impenetrable psychopath, hell-bent on obtaining the flat to complete the rites of his cult during the solar eclipse. The other characters have their moments of fully realizing the characters fullest potentials. IFC Midnight acquired this hidden gem for all rights in North America, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Penumbra is a slow-burn thriller with a horrorific ending that will leave you in a state of delightful bewilderment. If you enjoy films that have twists, occult and supernatural themes Penumbra is definitely a Fantastic Fest entry you’ll want to seek out.

Grade: A-

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  1. almost there
    October 21st, 2011 | 10:17 pm | #1

    Penumbra is Latin (from the Latin paene “almost, nearly” and umbra “shadow”), not Spanish.

    Also, it’s “disdain” not “distain” which isn’t a word.

    For future reference :)

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