A suspenseful thriller from the mind of writer/producer and co-star Michael Peake, A Handful of Pennies is a psychologically disturbing short film that centers around two men, Lyle (Peake) and Arnold (Graydon Stroud). The two are located in one of those rooms where the moment you see it you know that something isn't right - that "something" reveals itself rather quickly as Lyle has a question and Arnold has the answer.
Lyle wants the answer. Badly.
A Handful of Pennies works largely because Peake's script doesn't put any more in the film that is needed, trusting that the tension between Lyle and Arnold will be enough to hold the film together. That decision is correct, largely because the performances of both Peak and Stroud are compelling and disturbing and infinitely watchable.
A Handful of Pennies is a beautifully constructed film, expertly photographed by D.P. Cole Pisano with Thomas Dangerfield's original music that serves as a perfect accompaniment for the film. Despite being an ultra-low budgeted film, Mark Utley's art direction gives the film a design that is both menacing and intimate.
Co-directors E. Charlton-Trujillo and Josh Flowers do an excellent job of building the suspense quite nicely without giving too quick a reveal for the less than nine-minute short film. Ultimately, the biggest reason the film works is because of Peake's natural dialogue and ability to create a believable story that still gets wrapped up nicely within the confines of a short film.
If you get a chance, check out A Handful of Pennies as it makes its way around the underground and indie film fest circuit.