Review – Penthouse North (2013)

Director: Joseph Ruben

Starring: Michelle Monaghan, Michael Keaton, Barry Sloane

Penthouse North 27x40Penthouse North is a largely generic home-invasion thriller with one key difference, the victim is blind.

Sara is a former photojournalist who lost her sight when she was victim to a suicide bomber while on assignment in the Middle East. She now lives a reclusive life in a luxurious New York penthouse with her boyfriend, Ryan. One New Year’s Eve she arrives home from doing some shopping to find, eventually, her Ryan murdered and the killer still in the apartment. It appears Ryan used to be involved in some shady business with some bad men and made off with a fortune worth of diamonds. They have now come back to collect.

Home-invasion thrillers tend to involve small casts, minimal locations and short time frames, and the best of this genre of films use those elements to create a claustrophobic feeling. Despite having these key elements, Penthouse North doesn’t quite manage to establish that atmosphere and therefore doesn’t succeed in truly unnerving you as a viewer.

With such a small cast, the majority of the film only involves three characters, a greater than usual burden falls on the actors to carry engage the viewer. Michael Keaton is the highlight. He has always had a manic, unhinged quality – he has the crazy eyes – and this has served him well in the past in playing characters like Beetlejuice and Batman. It is enjoyable seeing him play a villain and he does quite well here, giving his character a real sense of menace. The others perform solidly, but never really grip or intrigue you. As Sara, Michelle Monaghan tries valiantly, but it is hard to not see her as someone pretending to be blind.

This is director Joseph Ruben’s first film since 2004’s The Forgotten, and is strange choice of drought-breaker. David Loughery’s screenplay goes through the motions without offering any surprises, and the result is a film that lacks tension and suspense. Despite a reasonable cast, Penthouse North is unremarkable, even if it never actually becomes bad.

Rating – ★★☆

Review by Duncan McLean

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