Penance Lane Poster

Review: PENANCE LANE (2020)

Tyler Mane and Scout Taylor-Compton played the iconic roles of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode in Rob Zombie’s remakes of Halloween and Halloween 2. Now eleven years later, they’ve been reunited in another tale of small-town horror, director Péter Engert’s Penance Lane.

Five years ago, a gang of heavily armed men led by Shooter (Booker Huffman, aka pro wrestler Booker T) burst into an abandoned house on Penance Lane. They plan to stash the money from the heist they just pulled. But they’re attacked by something that seems impervious to bullets. Only Shooter makes it out alive.

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Fresh out of jail, Crimson Matthews (Tyler Mane, Victor Crowley, Bring Me A Dream) has no sooner drifted into town than he’s in trouble. Seeing Tony (Michael Leavy, Terrifier, Fear Clinic) slapping his girlfriend Sherry (Scout Taylor-Compton, The Lurker, Getaway) around, he interferes. Even pulling a straight razor can’t save Tony’s ass. However, his father Police Captain Denny Wilson’s (Daniel Roebuck, Dead Night, 3 From Hell) can. He picks up a job from Father John (John Schneider, The Stairs, Demons) as the caretaker of the house at 226 Penance Lane. Yes, the house from the prologue.

Weird shit starts happening almost immediately. But neither what appears to be evil spirits nor hostile lawmen are going to scare Crimson off. Because back in prison, he and Shooter were cellmates. And Shooter told him what happened that night. And what’s stashed in the house.

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Engert opens the main story with a nod to another film starring a wrestler. Crimson drifting in and looking for work reminded me of John Nada’s introduction in They Live. Although with his past, and current connections, he seems to have a lot more in common with another of Carpenter’s anti-heroes, Snake Plisken. Later in the film, there’s a fight that resembles a pro wrestling match more than anything else, again like in They Live. There are certainly worse films or directors to be influenced by.

Penance Lane doesn’t waste any time delivering the goods, either. By the thirty-minute mark, the things in the house are attacking Crimson and a bunch of kids Tony suggested go party there. And from there, the plot takes a twist I certainly didn’t see coming. Things only get better after that.

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Granted, Penance Lane doesn’t have the most logical of plots. But it makes up for it with plenty of action. That includes, as mentioned, an epic fight that resembles a wrestling match and is possibly another nod to They Live. There are also a couple of twists I didn’t see coming and a performance by Schneider that reminded me of a villain on the Batman TV show. And I mean that in a good way.

Penance Lane is the first time I’ve seen Mane in a lead role, and he does a decent job. It’s not the most demanding of roles, but he’s certainly convincing in it. He and Compton make a good team once the shit hits the fan. Also watch for yet another former wrestler “Diamond” Dallas Page (High Heat, Hood Of Horror) as one of Crimson’s associates. Sharp-eyed viewers may also recognize prolific character actor William Tokarsky (Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell, Dead by Midnight (Y2Kill)) as the town bum.

Penance Lane is available to stream via Level 33 Entertainment. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more details.

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