From producer Lucky McKee comes Jug Face. Hot damn is this one fantastic little horror film. Rooted in folk horror and southern gothic, Jug Face tells the tale of a tightly knit backwoods community that worships “the pit” – a not particularly deep hole in the ground where an annual sacrifice is made to appease whatever spirit resides within.
The sacrifice is chosen by Dawai (Sean Bridgers), a mentally challenged potter who receives visions from the pit and sculpts the sacrifice’s face into a jug. When a pregnant teen is chosen as the next offering, she challenges the local superstitions to save her own ass and the unborn ass inside her. Jug Face is a finely crafted dark tale of incest, backwater mentality, and survival. I’ve watched a lot of DTV and indie horror films over the past year. There are so many crappy ones, but Jug Face is definitely one of the better low-budget offerings to come along in a while.
Lauren Ashley Carter (The Woman) stars as Ada. The movie starts with her screwing around with her brother in the woods. At first we don’t know it’s her brother, which makes her pregnancy even more of a gut punch later on. She’s keeping her condition a secret for obvious reasons. Besides the whole incest thing, she’s recently been promised to another member of the community, so her sexual activity would disgrace her family. Carter’s portrayal is a solid one. She capture’s Ada’s desperation and innocence really well.
The community Ada was brought up in is a highly superstitious one, especially when it comes to things like sex and their standards of purity. It’s never explained why they worship the pit or the origins of their sacrifice rituals. This enigma only adds weight to the mysteriousness of the film though. The pit isn’t very impressive looking and at first it appears like folks are being sacrificed for absurd reasons. Then Ada’s interference in the annual ritual angers the pit and the audience is shown what the hole in the ground can really do.
There’s some decent gore and lots of bloodshed, but the most effective bits of terror are when the pit is killing people, and we have no idea how. It’s just a hole with some rain water and mud in it, yet it can fucking devour a person. It’s really unsettling stuff. I’m all for the unexplainable in horror films, so the pit is an antagonist I can really dig. A ghost makes an appearance as well. He’s a boy ghost who follows Ada around, scaring the shit out of her and being an overall creep. I understand what purpose the ghosts serves, but he doesn’t really add much to the overall narrative.
Jug Face offers a lot to enjoy. The performances are great and the forest setting makes for a creepy environment for the drama to play out in. The pit is as simple as a malevolent being can get, but sometimes simplicity makes for some horrifying stuff. It’s definitely a unique and original experience.
Jug Face is now available on DVD and I sincerely recommend the shit outta it.
Looks like typical DVD quality. The 5.1 audio track highlights the brooding guitar score.
The half hour behind the scenes documentary is an insightful look at what made this little horror film a reality. Director Chad Crawford Kinkle talks about his inspirations for the film, which goes back to when he saw some actual jug faces in a museum.
Also included is a trailer and Kinkle’s short film Organ Grinder. It’s more in-your-face with the gore than the feature, but its a fun little short.