Chop, chop, chop. Watching the smooth motion of a knife slicing up vegetables for dinner seems utterly normal, but adding the well-composed musical backdrop, Piano Trio No. 2 E-flat (the tune might sound familiar, if you have ever watched The Hunger), behind the action in the first installment of Penny Dreadfuls induces an eerie, unconventional feeling to the customary kitchen setting.
Penny Dreadfuls, an original web series available on Strike.TV produced by Bosso Fataka Entertainments, is a set of unsettling tales written and directed by James Arnall, which depict engrossing accounts of every day life intermingled with edge-of-your-seat thrills.
The name penny dreadful is aptly derived from a particular brand of nineteenth century British publications, which were fictionalized accounts of real crimes sold in cheap storybook form to the working class. Arnall has managed to capture the true essence of this centuries old pulp fiction by portraying real-life circumstances with subtle simplicity and shocking results.
So, she’s hungry, he’s hungry. What’s for dinner? Funny you should ask. The suspense series starts off with Feeding, a gripping piece of storytelling about a woman who finds solace in an intimate but evidently odd relationship with her garbage disposal. Yes, garbage disposal, but don’t let the synopsis fool you.
As a dejected suburban housewife, actress Carolyn Hennesy, (General Hospital) gives a realistic, whole-hearted performance and embraces the vulnerability needed for the role. Hennesy generously provides a backdoor glimpse into her character’s humdrum, miserable existence. Night after night, the wife constantly strives to make her husband happy by putting her heart into every meal she prepares for him. Unfortunately, she is plagued by a loveless marriage and continually ignored by her arrogant, unappreciative husband, who is played by real-life hubby, Donald Agnelli. Regardless what she cooks for him, he dismisses and belittles her every deed. Both actors deliver quality performances and continually set us up for the unexpected.
Psychologically disturbed, Hennesy’s character begins to unwind before our eyes when she begins to cheat on her husband with the inanimate object that inhabits her kitchen. From start to finish, Arnall feeds viewers through symbolic delusion, exhaling shades of realism mixed with preconceived notions and delivering skin crawling results. Through skillfully mastered, straightforward camera angles, we aren’t quite sure if the close up of the steak or water faucet is about to segue into cannibalism or water torture, so, viewers are forced to hang on tight for the next reveal.
The second installment from Penny Dreadfuls is Sleeping Beauty. Here again, Arnall doesn’t let us down with his illustrative subject matter and within a matter of minutes, still manages to creepify. Starring Michele Boyd and Christopher Collard in another husband and wife scenario, the story uncovers the grim intentions behind a seemingly peaceful marriage. While the lovely wife lies sleeping in the bedroom, her doting husband checks on her periodically to make sure she is comfortable.
The web-anthology, Penny Dreadfuls leaves us with a true sense of fatal attraction at its best. Check it out at Strike.TV.