Written & Directed by Adrian Garcia Bogliano & Ramiro Garcia Bogliano
Marga, a beautiful but rather cold business woman, is scheduled to meet Jorge, a real estate agent at the apartment that she owns, hoping to pawn it off on his client despite it being a run-down hovel in a bad neighborhood. He assures her that it's just what his client Mr. Salva is looking for, and he's willing to pay top dollar, but the deal must be closed quickly. Playing along, she clears her schedule and awaits the arrival of the mysterious Mr. Salva.
Salva doesn't arrive at the appointed time, but it seems that whenever Marga turns around, there are more employees from Jorge's office appearing, there to make sure that the deal goes off without a hitch. But their behavior turns more and more erratic as time goes on and she realizes these people are here for something far more arcane than a rental property.
This IFC Films import from Argentina is something of a slow-burner, where only the slightest hints of wrongness casually build up your paranoia for the majority of the running time, until it all comes to a boil at the finale. How satisfying that finale is will depend on how believable you find their motivations. I, for one, found it suitable--even if the filmmakers left it a little vague, abstract and open-ended. The backdrop of an impending solar eclipse lent some credibility to the proceedings, as it is an event big enough and cosmic enough to bring out the crazies--whoever those crazies may be.
Penumbra has a solid cast and good acting, although (as usual) the reading of subtitles can easily distract you from truly appreciating them. The musical scoring was pretty good, although the rock song over the closing credits seemed a little out of place--but that's really the least important song on any soundtrack. Hence rapping about Freddy Kruger at the end of certain Nightmare on Elm Street sequels.
Overall, a creepy little flick that never quite turns frightening. If you can imagine a cross between The Strangers and House of the Devil, or Funny Games and To Let, you're halfway there. It's worth a rental, but I'd give it a try before you buy.
Penumbra drops TODAY in select theaters and Video On-Demand. Special thanks to IFC for supplying the screener.
Spanish (English Subtitles)