Penance is an example of this decade's "torture porn" craze at its worst. Cheaply made, with largely unknown actors, the film lacks the creativity of films such as Saw, substituting shock tactics for originality.
Th...展开e story is nothing new. An innocent young woman is forced to become a stripper because of financial trouble, and ends up falling into the hands of a depraved religious fanatic. (I'm a humanist, and even I think this movie gives religion a bad name.) What follows is an hour long wallow in torture and extremely graphic sequences of genital mutilation, both male and female.
What makes the movie particularly disgusting is its implicit acceptance of the moral logic of the villain. The protagonist is a victim of circumstance, not a "bad" stripper like the others, who are depicted in the most stereotypical, degrading way possible. At times, this approach pushes the film into outright misogyny.
Furthermore, Penance relies on a video taping framing device ripped off from better films like REC. The result is a cheap looking digital feature that adds nothing to the overall story.
The only good points of the film are the scenes with Michael Rooker, which unfortunately comprise only ten minutes or so. One wishes the film had been focused on his character instead.