For me, any great debut gives me a sort of anxiety. Is this the beginning of a great career, or are they going to run out ideas? Will success change the nature of their work? Jug Face made me think of all that and more, because it’s incredible.
In a way, we are bound by the auteur theory. Even if Chad Crawford Kinkle hadn’t written and directed Jug Face, we’d still be giving him the credit, but it seems more justified here than usual. There is some fantastic acting as well, as The Woman transplants Lauren Ashley Carter and Sean Bridgers show the depth of their talent here, and Larry Fesseneden and Sean Young light up the screen. Not that there’s a weak performance in the film.
Jug Face is about a monster in a pit, and some hicks in the woods. This sounds like the sort of movie that you’ve seen before. It is not.
The creature in the pit is never seen, and its attacks, I suspect, were just to give the film some movement. The movie instead focuses on Ada, a rather thoughtless young girl living a banal nightmare in a very closed rural community that worships a creature in a pit. Since there is no access to doctors or traditional medicine, these few people have a deal with the pit, immunity to “the pox” and other ills, in exchange for an occasional human sacrifice.
The victim is chosen by the potter, who has a vision and then crafts a jug face of the next to die. The victim is always willing.
In the beginning of the movie, Ada makes a rather poor and very unsettling decision, perhaps out of boredom, perhaps out of innocence. It goes badly almost immediately, and every move she makes to get out it, just makes things worse and worse for the people around her.
In the midst of all this, she makes her way to the potter’s ramshackle shed to find her face crafted in his oven. The pit wants what it wants. And it wants her.
It’s impossible to separate good entertainment from your own personal filter. Watching Ada struggle to leave the woods, her oppressive mother Loriss, misguided father Sustin, and all with no money, transportation or mobility, I was reminded of the flood victims in New Orleans. Its easy to look at someone else’s situation and think that they could just leave. But Jug Face shows how hard that actually is. And Jug Face makes us re-examine our idea of sacrifice.
Ada doesn’t want to die, especially for a community that she wants no part of. But she doesn’t want them to die either. And they will.
After all… the pit wants what it wants.