August Underground's Penance (2007)

DVD Cover (Toe Tag Pictures Snuff Edition)
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Overall Rating 46%
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Ranked #6,692
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Connections: August Underground

"August Underground's Penance" is basically the personal home video of two sociopathic killers on murder spree. Again two nameless butchers played by Fred Vogel and Cristie Whiles videotape their bloodthirsty madness, but "Penance" shows also their slow decline. --TMDb
Review by Chad
Added: June 04, 2007
First, the good news: the filmmakers responsible for August Underground's Penance achieved everything that they set out to do with this release, that being to create a film that looks like an authentic snuff movie and leaves the audience thoroughly disgusted when the credits roll. The bad news is that this isn't a very enjoyable film; however, I honestly don't think that creating an entertaining and enjoyable film was the goal. It seems to me that the filmmakers wanted to shock, disgust, and depress the home audience with their scenes of debauchery - and they successfully did so.

There's really not a storyline to speak of for this offering. The goal of this film is to come across as a genuine snuff film, and with that in mind, what the viewer witnesses isn't so much a story as it is a series of scenes that occasionally connect to one another. We watch as two unnamed people (played by Cristie Whiles and Fred Vogel) joke around with one another, go sightseeing, torture people in their basement, and gradually spiral out of control as the film comes closer to the end. That's the full extent of the plot here: these torture and murder scenes are the sole selling points of the film.

Now, I haven't seen the first two films in this series, so I couldn't tell you how this latest release compares to the others. These aren't exactly the types of films that one really needs to watch in order, but I thought that I should point that out in case it comes up for whatever reason. I've read the reviews and I've seen the movie stills, and based on all of that, they look like more of the same to me - but again, I can't say that for a fact (so please, Toe Tag fans - don't ream me).

With that said, I should probably focus on the strengths of the film; after all, it was readily apparent to me that the filmmakers weren't going for a deep storyline and intriguing plot with this release, so it's to be expected that none of that would be present. As mentioned above, the main selling points of the film are the torture and murder sequences, and those are pretty much flawless. The effects used to create the various scenes of carnage were excellent, and there are some truly disgusting moments for the viewers who have the stomach to handle them. One particular scene especially impressed me, and although I won't completely spoil it, I will say that it sets a new standard for the old gut-ripping gag that has been done countless times over.

I also loved the performances by the two lead characters, if one can really use the word "love" to describe two characters that are as vile and despicable as they were. These are not the type of people that the audience wants to root for, nor are they the sort of killers that are so over the top that the audience gets behind them (ala Freddy or Jason). They are disgusting people, and if the intent behind this was to create a set of characters that would cause the audience to root for the victims, then I must say that the filmmakers completely nailed this one out of the park. This is not a bad thing, mind you; creating characters like this is extremely difficult, so I was pleasantly surprised to see how well it was done here.

Rating this film is a difficult task. How can one watch an entire family being murdered in their home just after the man rapes the dead mother in front of her screaming child amidst a backdrop of a Christmas tree and holiday decorations and then walk away saying "You know, I really enjoyed that" with a straight face? This is not an enjoyable film, nor is it a very entertaining one; however, it is an exceptionally impressive one in that it did everything it set out to do, and for that, I'm going with an 8/10.
grain of sand #1: grain of sand - added 06/04/2007, 04:55 PM
man, the august underground series.. gotta love a great torture scene.. someone should switch this for a hostel 2 showing coming up
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