An Argentinean import that scared up a big positive reaction at last year's Fantastic Fest, Penumbra is a slick, teasing, well constructed genre offering that rather skillfully exploits audience antipathy toward its bitch-on-wheels protagonist in slowly unspooling the story of a potential cult looking to find a secluded apartment in advance of an extremely rare solar eclipse. A thriller long on suspense if short on eventual explication, the movie is anchored by a fierce performance from Cristina Brondo.
Co-written and directed by brothers Adrian and Ramiro Garcia Bogliano, Penumbra is a film smartly rooted in character, and possessing of the slight tinge of a morality play, like so many of those old Tales From the Crypt episodes ("Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"). There's plenty of filler here — the first 50 minutes is all set-up, basically — but it's well handled, and it's so invigorating to see a genre piece with a spitfire female lead of this sort that one doesn't terribly mind. A darkly playful score and engaging musical selections by Martin Jurado also give the proceedings some pop. For the full, original review, from ShockYa, click here. (IFC Films, unrated, 90 minutes)