A film that I have been wanting to watch for a long time.
Jug Face has been coming up on my Amazon recommended list for several years, so I finally gave it a crack.
The film opens with a fantastic chalk-art animation that serves as a basic history of the community within the movie. The people in this area worship the pit, which asks for sacrifices, but heals them in return. The story is somewhat cultish, but we are given tangible proof of the supernatural powers quite early.
Instead of another cult movie we have more a study on the powers of religion, love, desire, and patriarchal dominance. Our lead, Ada (Lauren Ashley Carter) discovers that she is the next face depicted on the jug, which means she is the next chosen sacrifice. Ada is having an incestuous relationship with her brother, and this has resulted in a pregnancy.
Ada’s pregnancy subplot serves to give us insight into the domineering nature of the community. Ada is chosen to be wed with someone she does not like, and the “inspection” of her vagina will reveal she is not a virgin. Knowing that she is also selected to be a human sacrifice pushes her into making disastrous decisions that effects the entire small community.
Where the movie excels is the excellent acting throughout. Carter has proven to be a major talent in everything I have seen her in. Joining her in this is the mild-mannered and mentally handicapped jug maker Dawai (Sean Bridgers), who steals the show with his forceful presence. Dawai is perhaps the only truly benevolent character due to his love for Ada that can never manifest. Instead, he tries to help her as he can, and offers up a powerful performance.
Our third great character is the patriarch Sustin (Larry Fessenden) who offers a cold and oddly likable lead figure of the group. Simply put, this small and very communal-focused narrative blows it out of the water with excellent performances.
Where the film suffers is some of the choices in directing. For most of the film we have a subdued style that amps up the gory aftereffects of the kills. Yet, once Ada hides her jug she becomes connected to the pit, and can see through its eyes as it kills. These moments are awkward, loud, and simply off putting. Instead of an intense moment we get a corny/psychedelic blast over the screen through what can only be described as a piss colored filter. The bummer is that these moments tend to suck away the emotional impact of some of the more powerful moments. The special effects as a whole (aside from the still gore and guts) leave a little wanting, but it is the loudness of the action scenes that truly hurt the film.
Great acting, a cool story, good writing, and overall good directing with one fatal still makes an interesting movie. It isn’t scary, but it isn’t quite a drama either. Instead we have a creepy story about a community that sold itself to a dark entity. Overall, it is worth watching and I have no idea why I waited so long to get to it. 7.5/10