I have always been a horror movie fan, right from the beginning of my expedition into the world of entertainment. Because that element of surprise associated, or at least anticipated from horror movies is something which no other genre can provide. In my perpetual search for the best attempt made by someone for coming up with something which is not just scary but intelligent as well, I have encountered countless movies, series, graphic novels and even books; as it might already be clear to you that this insatiable thirst of mine is nowhere nearing its end and for every 1000 individuals who are hell-bent on giving cinema lovers a migraine with their puke abetting camera angles, unnecessary violence and, oh god the acting, there are at least 10 – 20 people who are absolute geniuses in this domain. Allow me to explain one of them in detail by the means of which I believe I can help you differentiate between a good movie and a bad one. Penny Dreadful is pure genius in almost every perspective I am familiar with and I will try my best to explain how.
‘Penny Dreadful’ derives its name from horror magazines/comics or books which were sold for a penny in UK back in the 19th century. Now, what the title might not tell you is that in this one particular masterpiece, John Logan manages to skillfully encompass almost every horror movie antagonist you might be familiar with. Vampires, Frankenstein and his monster (Yeah, Frankenstein wasn’t the monster. Frankenstein was its creator. His monster was called, well, Frankenstein’s Monster), werewolves, witches, apparitions and whatnots. The script is lucid and gains momentum with every new episode. There won’t be a point when you’d feel cheated cause if feels like the character doesn’t fit the script. No, each and every individual has a very special role to play and that is exactly what keeps you on the edge of your seat. Yeah, the standard to which horror movies have fallen to is abysmal. The routine hot lady skimping around in her underwear, the antagonist with a weapon, a know-it-all protagonist who can save everyone but a token black guy who’s killed off on the very first chance that the writers can squeeze in. You are in to watch a suspenseful and intelligent movie that’ll make you shiver, you end up watching a run of the mill half-assed movie that makes you groan. This vicious cycle goes on and on, because you are not satisfied by horror movies anymore and eventually you outgrow the genre, defending your stance with the fact that there are no good movies in the pipeline. But Penny Dreadful comes across as the gift you had been waiting for since Jesus died for your sins.
The series has Eva Green as the protagonist on a mission supported by a Josh Hartnett and Timothy Dalton to fight off supernatural beings and protecting the world. It had started off as a vendetta in pursuit of a friend but now they find themselves in the middle of a conspiracy larger than anyone of them. Only I know how difficult it is to hold back the torrent of information that I have about the plot after 3 seasons that I want to unleash upon you, but that would spoil your very personal experience that you deserve. It is set up in Victorian times and the crew does a commendable job when it comes to making it as realistic as possible. All the intricate details that one might have expected are beautifully projected and nothing seems out of its place, even when most of the characters have a very different chronological period of existence in folklores they all are agglomerated into this one time frame in which the series is set up. The director pays very close attention to the life, and even more importantly the perspective of the people living in that time, which is very important to make the viewer vicariously feel the helplessness and the blight of the people subjected to such horrors.
Every actor in this series does justice to the character they portray. Most of you might remember Eva Green as the petite Bond girl from Casino Royale, but boy-oh-boy! Are you in for a cinematic treat with this roller coaster ride, because there are sequences which make you bite your nails, thanks to the sheer oldschool horror movie flick aura. But then again she pulls off bone chilling expressions with such ease that you are left dumbstruck. There is nudity, blood, and gore in the series so viewer’s discretion is advised but then again who gives a rat’s ass! You will fall in love with how the plot thickens after every minute of screen time.
It is a bitter truth of humanity that most of us watch a horror movie to prove our mettle to our friends and acquaintances, but I would strongly suggest you not to do so here, because horror is a lot more than just cheap thrills and unexpected jump scare moments. It’s an art of its own and Penny Dreadful is a masterwork. You have to open yourself up, free from the prejudices and expected stereotypes to fully enjoy it. There would be times when a character is not even shown to you but you can hear his voice and the actors present on the screen at that time (along with the past references on the show) do such a commendable job that you can’t help but curl up into a ball with horror.
The acting, screenplay, direction, fight sequences, plot, make-up/prosthetics, and dialogues, all fall in like pieces of a huge jigsaw puzzle to complete this work of art. The lack of fan following of this show just breaks my heart. There are no subterfuges on the show, it is right there for the audience to look upon. Right in front of you lies the very reason why people are doing it, and what led to this situation. It is a must watch, so don’t just sit like a sack of potatoes, sit like a sack of potatoes with this show on and pee your pants!
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