Saturday, 18 July 2015

JUGFACE Aka THE PIT **** USA 2013 Dir: Chad Crawford Kinkle. 78 mins

Its offbeat tone set by a unique animated title sequence and Sean Spillane’s distinctive original score, this feature debut for writer-director Chad Kinkle unfolds entirely within a sheltered Southern religious community, protected by a mysterious creature lurking in the “pit” of the film’s UK title.
The creature heals whatever ails the community but demands a sacrifice whenever psychically empowered Sean Bridgers conveys the nominated person via the unique clay jugs she makes. The latest named sacrifice: pregnant teenager Lauren Ashley Carter. Recalling the deliberate pacing and slow-burning malevolence of co-star Larry Fessenden’s own directorial efforts, this downbeat story of an insular community controlled by a far greater, unseen power bears the influence of everything from Edgar Allan Poe to the extraordinarily creepy British picture BLOOD ON SATAN’S CLAW. Often, it plays out like the movie you wish M Night Shayamalan’s THE VILLAGE had been. On-screen horror is limited, with the focus applied – more potently – to the emotional impact of violence and abuse, while the domestic horrors faced by our heroine at the hands of her domineering mother (a remarkable Sean Young) are as terrifying as any monster the film could visualise. Much of it plays like a subtly dread-infused drama but, by the time the story has tracked its way to an inevitably grim resolution, you’ll realise just how much this deceptively low key and modest little picture has wormed its way into your brain….and you might not be able to shake it off for some time.

Review by Steven West


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