Tuesday, September 17, 2013

JUG FACE: Cults in the woods are scary.

It is the occasional gem that makes it worth sifting through the pile of turds.  I’d wanted to watch Jug Face since I first heard of it on the internet at one or other of my favorite haunts. Thanks to On Demand, we can all see it now, but it comes out on DVD/Bluray in October.
Visiting the last HorrorHound Indy, I spent most of my time in the Maskfest area talking to the artists and all around cool folks…While there, I met Beki Ingram and David “House” Greathouse (of SyFy’s Face Off fame) who were both there to promote that little film along with some of their other excellent work. I spoke to them about it and they were excited. Then I walked into the vendor area and there was another Jug Face stand set up. They were giving away “fans” which was nice because it was hotter than a @#$%^ on !#^#@ing  4th of July in there.
I went home with a new found need to put my balls on that movie. (Eyeballs you pervs).
Like I said, a quick search online led me to a popular On Demand site where I could rent the film and watch it in the comfort of my own jammies. Concession stand is whatever’s in the fridge and pantry. I like that.
Now, I wasn’t exactly ready for the movie…what that means is this: I knew it was about a backwoods family that worshipped some sort of pit in the ground, and that the “jug face” was actually a jug with a face on it. SPOILERS from here on.
Here’s what really happens:  It starts with a cool little cartoon that gives you a glimpse into this tribe’s cycle. I’m not sure “tribe” is the right word, but they aren’t really a cult, and there isn’t much community there.   Next we meet a young woman named Ada (Lauren Ashley Carter). She’s a teenager and she’s being chased through the woods by another teen, a young man named Jessaby (Daniel Manche). It’s not long before the pair are having sex up against a tree…because she didn’t want to have sex next to “the pit”. What we don’t know at this point, is that Jessaby and Ada are brother and sister.
My creep meter just redlined and we’re not that far into the film.
While they’re boinking upright on the tree, we’re shown glimpses of the pit, and also of another man in town, a slow coach named Dawai, played wonderfully by Sean Bridgers—it really is a great part and a great performance. Dawai is throwing a clay jug and when he finishes, he takes it outside to a makeshift kiln to fire it. His eyes are glazed over as if he’s blind, or as we find out later—seeing something we can’t.
We then find out that Ada is pregnant with Jessaby’s child. Gag. Hork. Ewww… and yet, we still feel for the girl because of her soulful eyes and great acting. She’s not happy with the cult/tribe/commune, and she questions everything. She also goes to see whose face is on that jug and no shit if it isn’t her own. Upset, she takes the jug and hides it in the woods, and that’s when things go a little nuts.
Ada is confused, angry, and in love with her own brother—the girl has issues. It doesn’t help that she is pregnant, and has to fake her period so her mother won’t find out—and trust me when I say, Momma (Sean Young) checks—like really checks. It also doesn’t help that she is betrothed to another young man in the group, although he isn’t her brother. Cousin maybe, but not her brother.  It also doesn’t help that her grandfather is a near invalid and left to her care because no one else checks on him. She tells him everything because he doesn’t speak, her secrets are safe.
Jessaby tells her she’s on her own and is quite the ass about it, which is uncomfortable for all of us since they share the same bedroom.
Back to the jug.
See, the face on the jug is “told” to Dawai by the pit. And that face is the face of the next human sacrifice. When the jug goes missing, the pit starts taking others in gory ways. This isn’t a movie for the gut-spilling gore hound, but it has its moments.
Another jug is made. Everyone meets at the pit and we find out how it’s supposed to work. They unveil the jug face, and it is Ada’s intended fiancĂ©. Without much fanfare, he leans over a log at the edge of the pit and allows Sustin (Larry Fessenden) to cut his throat.
The pit wants what it wants.  The pit will heal them if they give it what it wants, always has.
Ada starts having visions, similar to Dawai. She gets the weird glossy eyes and starts talking to a ghost—one of “The Shunned”. These are, as best I could tell, the spirits of those shunned from the society and taken to the pit to be eaten by the monster that dwells inside. Being shunned is different than being chosen and having a jug made of your face.
Confused yet? If so, it’s my fault, but let me finish… So more people die. Ada’s parents find out she’s pregnant and she finally tells them the baby is her brothers and –surprise—even these psychos think that’s nasty. They take her to the pit, and they take Dawai to the pit and chain them up.
A few more visions, multiple escape attempts and a chase or two and Ada realizes the err of her ways…that she could’ve stopped all of this if she’d been honest from the beginning, or if she hadn’t shacked up with her bro. Will she do the right thing? I’m not going to tell you that.
Audio: Good enough
Visual: Excellent
F/X:  Very simple, but effective. Nothing over the top so nothing is questioned. The gore is believable.  
Storyline: Strong. You want to be angry at Ada, but can’t really because her situation is so jacked up. It’s smartly written and well paced.
Acting: Excellent all the way around. Standouts? Sean Bridgers, Lauren Ashley Carter and Larry Fessenden, but everyone does well.
Overall:  My hat’s off to writer/director Chad Crawford Kinkle on his first feature. Dude, you’re film is original, creepy and well made. More of this, please.  (my interview with him HERE)
It won’t keep you up at night afraid of things under your bed or in your closet, but it might make you think twice about traipsing through the woods, lest you be chosen by the pit.
4 out of 5 skulls.

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