Review: Bad Penny

Written and directed by Tony Hipwell, an antiques dealer is haunted by a cursed object that won’t take no for an answer. Starring: Andrew Dunn, Andrina Carroll and Arron Dennis.

When it comes to horror, holding back is always your friend, playing into a slick simplicity to keep your audience guessing and push them to the edge of their seat, and Tony Hipwell definitely kept that in mind with Bad Penny. Right from the start his use of angles injects tension and suspense, with classic horror close-ups and more unusual positions. The use of effects, makeup and the reveal of its key horror element itself are all perfectly subtle. They do exactly what they need to, to draw you into the story, but don’t play their hand too quickly. One of the elements which then elevates it further is the sound effects, coming in sporadically to keep you on edge and using a sound that is grating in a hugely positive and effective way. The way that it’s done almost feels reminiscent of films like The Conjuring, it makes you know you should be fearful before it tells you why.

Another aspect which punches through that tension straight away is the fantastic performance from Andrew Dunn. He brings such a palpable discomfort and anxiety that it communicates perfectly how the audience should feel and adds a huge sense of foreboding. Other than being an antiques dealer, we know practically nothing about him and it doesn’t even matter in the slightest because he creates such an easily relatable character. Dunn’s performance is packed with fear, fighting for survival and getting across that there’s a history to this moment which you’ll have to wait to learn.

Therein lies the clever nature to this story, again Hipwell realises the power of holding back, revealing too much or leaning on effects will always take away from the tension and suspense of your story. Added to that, initially it works perfectly and is entertaining and gripping but then it also throws in a few unexpected additions which push it even further. The pacing is great, the intensity rises throughout and as it start to reveal itself, it doesn’t peak until the right moment, making for satisfying viewing.

Bad Penny is gripping, fun and hugely entertaining. It taps into some quintessential techniques of horror, creating an atmosphere of fear and tension to draw you in before you even know what you should be fearful of. There’s a great use of foreboding and the sound effects make the hair on the back of your neck stand up like listening to nails on a chalkboard, punching up the suspense. Andrew Dunn leads the story perfectly, his terror and anxiety are excellent in helping the story develop. The writing is smart, well paced and doesn’t reveal its cards until just the right moment to make for a hugely satisfying ending.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯½ | 9/10

Showing at Dead Northern Film Festival 2022 on 25th September

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