Crimson Matthews (Tyler Mane), is one hard-ass ex-con who is trying his beastly best to turn over a new leaf. To that end he takes on a job as a handyman of sorts working in an arcane abode down Penance Lane way.
As fate, and horror tropes, would have it, ol’ cray-cray Crimson discovers that demonic dwelling is home to it’s fair share of deep, dark sinister secrets… secrets the town is none to pleased to have discovered… and they’ll do anything to make sure they remain hidden in the shadows.
Has Crimson traded one prison for another as the house begins to gain a hold on our hero?
Let’s kick out the fuckin’ joltin’ jams of Penance Lane with some preternatural positives, shall we?
First up, the cast assembled here is absolutely first rate. We get Mane (he of Rob Zombie’s Halloween remakes, and the first X-Men flick, who also produced this freaky fracas) as our oddly named hero, and my dude delivers a great performance that really wrings the pathos out of the troubled man trying desperately to lead a life of peace, only to have his endurance severely tested by the ghoulish-goings on that comprise this fright flick.
Also up to the challenge are rock solid supporting players including Mane’s Halloween co-stars Daniel Roebuck and Scout Taylor-Compton, as well as former wrestler/current fitness guru Diamond Dallas Page, as well as The Dukes of Hazzard and Smallville‘s John Schneider as the town pastor.
Also on point is the film’s slick visual aesthetic courtesy of director Péter Engert and cinematographer Steven Della Salla (aided and abetted by editors John Gilbert and Chase Smith). This putrid picture looks like a million bucks… which seems like a ton of dough to yours cruelly, though in movie terms I guess it isn’t… anyway, this shizz looks tight and outta sight yo.
Additionally the film’s screenplay, courtesy of scribe Munier Sharrieff, offers plenty of thrills and characterization… but this leads us to my main gripe about this one…
If you are looking for a reinvention of the wicked wheel when it comes to the horror biz you can avert your eerie eyeballs elsewhere, as Penance Lane travels a well trod road indeed. We have a dilapidated house full of mystery (a tradition since ye olde Gothic age), a town well aware of the darkness descending, and a stormy individual with an outsider’s soul thrust balls deep into said shenanigans… it’s all well done, but we have seen most of this material before.
Bottom line, Penance Lane is a fun fright flick, with a fantastic cast and more than enough horror biz to keep most boils n’ ghouls well and truly satisfied, even if some of this plays out like a greatest hits collection.