August Underground’s Penance is a 2007 extreme found footage horror film, written and directed by Fred Vogel, with additional writing from Allen Peters and Cristie Whiles. The film is the final entry in the August Underground Trilogy, consisting of August Underground and August Underground’s Mordum, and the seventh film produced by ToeTag Pictures.

Bonded by their sick love for perversion and brutal depravity, the psychopaths from hell, Peter and his equally vile girlfriend Crusty, are still on the hunt for fresh prey after the unspeakable events in their previous home videos. As always, slaughter, rape, dismemberment, evisceration, and sexual assault are on the menu, with a touch of murderous jealousy and Yuletide atrocities. The brutal sadists seek penance and a way out of sin through blood and death. But who can offer forgiveness to the unrepentant?


Continuing in a similar vein to the previous two entries to the trilogy, August Underground’s Penance follows an identical structure to August Underground and Mordum in terms of structure and progression. However, Penance features a stronger juxtaposition between this fluctuating tone—spotlighting the typical blend of a meandering walking tour of the streets and rural areas of Ohio with even more extreme scenes of torture and sexual abuse. While this structure is the trilogy’s bread and butter when it comes to narrative, the film’s contents certainly rest on both ends of this spectral contrast: delivering both a more grounded home video aesthetic and an increase in the visceral savagery of its narcissistic violence.

Still present are scenes of house parties, live performances from local bands, and general tomfoolery on the city streets, yet with the noticeable lack of Maggot in this entry (presumably not surviving from the conclusion of Mordum), the general dynamic has transposed from a family video to a more intimate feel of a couple’s personal home video. However, this whirlwind of debauchery is far from the perfect relationship as evident in the degradation of their romance is made ever-present throughout. As their situation reaches the boiling point, their aggression and disdain soon turn toward each other and erupt in a thrilling yet unambiguous culmination of the series.


Furthermore, not only is the deterioration of the relationship of this insidious couple at the forefront of August Underground’s Penance but their individual declining mental states are also brought into question throughout. While our protagonists are portrayed as despicable, heartless, and sadistic killers who only achieve joy through violence in the first two entries, the film actually captures the characters in a downward spiral of their psyche. Fred’s character, Peter, whilst presented as an emotionless, perverse sadist, begins to display cracks in this veneer as his emotional instability begins to pour through. Likewise, Crusty exhibits a similar decline in mental state, suffering an emotional breakdown after discovering the removed fetus from a pregnant victim. The realistic, inconsolable wailing presented by Cristie Whiles, as well as what occurs afterward, presents some of the most uncomfortable moments in all three films.

August Underground’s Penance is the downward spiral of the characters. I wanted to end the trilogy with the darkest and most depraved installment and I think we did.” -Fred Vogel

And I would have to agree with Mr. Vogel on this one. While the film lacks the vigorously animated momentum achieved in Mordum, August Underground’s Penance certainly embraces the nihilistic darkness of the trilogy’s tone, providing the most disturbing entry to the already notable series.


Implementing an extremely grotesque level of gore and viscera, the effects utilized in August Underground’s Penance are a noticeable step up from the already impressive display in the previous films. With a stronger fixation on disemboweling and entrails, the film effectuates a shocking level of realism with pragmatic practicality.

Additionally, with the change in video format from the previous VHS camera, complete with colour bleeding and tape distortion to a much cleaner digital film with a widescreen aspect ratio, these effects are delivered with an unnerving clarity missing in the previous films. Despite the lack of vintage charm presented through this archaic style, the modern cinematography undoubtedly delivers a cleaner visualization of these barbaric acts. Furthermore, a level of alternating cinematography similar to those presented in Mordum is once again implemented throughout the film, with the visual style differing significantly depending on what character is in control of the camera. Once again, while Peter takes the time to set us a framed static shot, Crusty, on the other hand, utilises a more disorientating, zoomed-in free cam. However, unlike Mordum, there is a noticeable blending of styles from the protagonists, affecting both cinematic techniques at points; yet, each still prefer their respective styles over the others.


An austere ending to one of the most extreme trilogies to exist, August Underground’s Penance certainly doesn’t skimp on the violence and depravity of its predecessors. While the film doesn’t reach the dizzying, kinetic crescendo of Mordum, the film is still an incredibly unrelenting descent into the abyss of human depravity and incredibly tough to watch at multiple points. With a stronger focus on its protagonist’s mentality, increased realism from the practical effects, and an overall darker tone, the film is certainly a fitting bookend to this notorious collection of carnage.

August Underground’s Penance (2007) is available to preorder from Unearthed Films’ Website here

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