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Unlike the filmmakers’ previous thriller, you won’t break a ‘Sweat.’

Rod Lott August 14th, 2012

Penumbra is Spanish for "partly in the shadows," which is how we first find the fourth-floor apartment that Margarita Sanchez (Cristina Brondo, Dario Argento's Do You Like Hitchcock?) shows to Jorge Kepler (Berta Muñiz), representative for a prospective renter willing to pay four times the going rate, and for a full year in advance.


That sounds too good to be true, but stranger things have happened on the day of a total solar eclipse. And they will.

Too bad Penumbra takes a full 51 minutes of its 90 to get near there. Only then does the Argentinian film approach any plot points that reveal themselves as thriller-esque. Before then — and even sometimes after — it could be mistaken as a near-farce. The score often suggests as much by being at odds with the movie's stated genre.

In several ways, Penumbra reminded me of the recent Extraterrestrial: an uneasy mix of elements, not enough plot to fill a feature, and lots and lots of talking in Spanish in an apartment building. Penumbra's female lead is just snotty and unlikable.

While a disappointment on its own, Penumbra is doubly so by being the filmmakers' follow-up to Cold Sweat, a tight and intense suspenser that remains one of the more enjoyable DVD surprises of the past year. That's not to say that writers/directors Adrián García Bogliano and Ramiro García Bogliano don't exhibit flashes of ingenuity now and again; one scene in which Marga expresses panic to an attention-starved neighbor finds the camera rocking back and forth like a ship intent on making its passengers ill.

The movie may not do that, but it will bore. —Rod Lott

Hey! Read This:
Cold Sweat DVD review  
Extraterrestrial DVD review    

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