Monday, January 28, 2013
JUG FACE: The Pit Wants What it Wants
Jug Face is a film very sure of itself. It doesn't feel the need to explain much beyond the charming, crayon-drawn history that animates under the credits, dropping the viewer in the middle of the action and tension, a tactic which lends itself well to the off-balance confusion of the film. Drawing horror from both familiar tropes and atypical maneuvers, Jug Face is a creeptastic little romp through the fanatical, the supernatural and the perverse.
The most disheartening of this crew is Ada's family – father and the town leader, Sustin (Larry Fessenden), cruel, brutal mother Loriss (an absolutely BRILLIANT Sean Young), and Ada's twisted, mean brother Jessaby (Daniel Manche). Throughout the film parents offer little more than physical abuse; Jessaby alternates between incestuous romance and mean-spirited intimidation. The only comfort Ada finds is in her friend Dawai (Sean Bridgers), the mentally disabled medium for the creature of the pit. Sequestered in a shanty at the edges of the town, Dawai falls into trances, throwing pots that bear the face of the next town member called to be sacrifice to the creature.
This sadistic story is told in a charming way - it's been awhile since I've seen a movie that doesn't spoon-feed the storyline. There are gaps and mysteries in the script, left in an intentional manner that encourages the imagination and enhances the film's eerie quality. The monster is a the worst bug-a-boo that haunted you as a child; the history of the town, the pit, their culture and rituals blossom in your mind. The 'better left unsaid' quality of the writing is a boon to the film, creating a tale that can stretch beyond the boundaries of it's celluloid.
That being said, I found that the real fear in the film didn't come from the creature in the pit – to be perfectly honest, the creature and the jugfaces were low on the totem pole of interest for me. The scariest and most disturbing parts of the film were found in the cruelty inherent in the town: the moments of brutality between mother and daughter, the underlying perverted sexuality of the community, and the complete lack of empathy felt toward neighbors and family. The moment where the monster claims another life is nothing next to the chilling scene where Loriss takes a straight razor to her daughter's hand as punishment; the plain disgust and rage aimed at her child makes mother much more of a monster than any supernatural creature could be.
Outside of that, the film is well shot, eerie, creative and captivating. The sets, costumes and story create a seamless experience that catches the audience up, forcing us to face our own cruel fears: mortality, alienation, abuse and that horrid creature hiding under the bed. A brilliantly disturbing and wicked little tale Jug Face has got a lot going for it. Enjoy, kiddies.