Hey there, I’m Jared. I have 500 movies and shows in my Instant Queue and that’s just way too many. I’m going to slowly work my way through my queue until there’s nothing left, one movie at a time. But, I’m also thinking of you and your unwieldy queue and all the movies you want to watch but no longer have the time to now that you’ve become so awesome and popular. Let me know what has been gathering digital dust in your Netflix Instant library and I’ll watch that too. If it isn’t the worst.
What’s the movie? Jug Face (2013)
What’s it rated? Rated R for human sacrifice, full blown incest and a very hungry pit.
Did people make it? Written and Directed by Chad Crawford Kinkle. Acted by Lauren Ashley Carter, Sean Bridgers, Sean Young, Larry Fessenden and Daniel Manche.
What’s it like in one sentence? Winter’s Bone meets Children of the Corn with a little Jim Thompson thrown in.
Why did you watch it? Because I thought it would be scary.
What’s it about in one paragraph? A small community of hillbillies in the woods sacrifice one of their members every so often to a shallow pit on the outskirts of their village. It goes like this: A simple man who lives on his own in the village receives a vision from the pit showing him the next person it wants. He then makes a clay jug showing that person’s face, which he reveals to the community in a ceremony held by the pit. Whoever’s face is revealed gives themselves willingly to the pit by getting their throat cut, which pleases the pit enough to heal people and give safe harbor to those in the community. When a young pregnant girl opens up the kiln and sees the newest jug face belongs to her, she steals it, arousing the pits ire since it isn’t getting the blood it wants. Horror ensues.
Play or remove from my queue? I guess play it. I really thought the first half was pretty masterful as it built to almost unbearable levels of tension, but director Chad Crawford Kinkle seemed much more interested in jump scares and loud noises.
I love the idea of a secret community that worships a pit and feeds it the blood of whoever it asks for in order to be left alone, but the script does so little with this idea that the entire film feels like a wasted opportunity. This type of movie thrives on the ambiguity of the unknowable demon or god that they are sacrificing to, but the script doesn’t seem interested in anything other than the very basic idea of the pit. For one, the community itself doesn’t seem to have more than 20 people or so in it, only a couple of which are children. The group isn’t thriving and it doesn’t seem like it can last for much longer, so why does the community stay and continue sacrificing to the pit? The village leader says the pit heals them when they need it, but we never see an example of that or of any reason why it’s worth it for the people to stay by the pit when they live close to a small town. The group also sells moonshine to the town, which gives them just enough money to buy tampons and shit like that, but they also purposely run over roadkill in order to cook it up, so the destitution of the village seems inconsistent. If they sacrifice life to the pit to be healed, then why are they still purchasing minor medical supplies?Maybe I’m looking too deeply into this thing, but all of the disparate ideas in the film always seemed to contradict each other leaving the film feeling slightly half-baked.
The performances work much better, especially Lauren Ashley Carter as Ada, the young pregnant girl who doesn’t want to sacrifice herself and her unborn child to a pit in the woods. Her desperation is palpable and her arc of the film is one that’s so brutally hopeless as to make the film feel much stronger than it is. Kinkle just doesn’t seem interested enough in keeping the film devastatingly psychological as he is in throwing down some gore and terribly CG enhanced ghosties. I usually enjoy a slow build to some shattering grue, but the backwood culture dynamic crossed with the ancient hungry pit is such an awesome idea that when the blood starts flying it feels like an anticlimactic letdown.
Sean Bridgers is always brilliant in everything he does and his arc on Deadwood is one of the finest produced by the show. He doesn’t disappoint here as the simpleton who sculpts and fires the jugs. The pit always picks one person to send the visions to and he unwillingly obliges. The visions take a take a toll on him and the responsibility of basically telling the community who is next to die is starting to put him into a tailspin. Bridgers could have easily overplayed the character, but instead gives Dawai a fascinating inner life that hints of a better movie.
Jug Face has all the elements of a horror classic, but it doesn’t use its gorgeous rural setting or it’s stunning cinematography to create an ominous enough tone to sustain ideas this scary. It’s a misfire, but a misfire worth examining.
How’s the Music? The music is gorgeous. Honestly the score is probably the finest aspect of the film. Sean Spillane’s score sounds like the perfect mashup of Johnny Greenwood’s There Will Be Blood with Damon Albarn’s Ravenous.
What does Netflix say I’d like if I like this? Citadel (been meaning to watch this for a year), Absence (pregnant lady has her baby disappear from her belly), The Maze (evil cornfield), Ghost Watcher 2 (terrible cover) and Haunt (excellent first 10 minutes).
Do you have an interesting fun-fact? The film only grossed $21,000. That’s not very fun.
What is Netflix’s best guess for Jared? 2.8
What is Jared’s best guess for Jared? 2.5
Any last thoughts? It seems like everyone else enjoyed this movie more than I did. So let me know what you thought about it in the comments.
Did you watch anything else this week? Just a shitload of Bojack Horseman because that’s my life.
Next Week? Dark Space? I dunno, you tell me.