Tuesday, November 12, 2013

JUG FACE (2013)

Following the greatest credits sequence of all time, we jump into our story: Ada lives in some backwater holler, where the residents have taken to practicing a freaky religion.  They worship a power that resides in a shallow, watery pit, and seek its healing powers.  The bad news is that The Pit also demands propitiation through sacrifice.  It announces the unlucky winner by guiding the hands of simpleton Dewai, who then makes clay jugs that have faces on them.

It's not a very elaborate story and you can probably guess the plot parts that I left out.  JUG FACE doesn't strive for the heights of storytelling—its pretty simple story has essentially been told before—but instead tries to differentiate itself through its unorthodox atmosphere and solid acting and direction.

As you can probably tell, I was not as enamored of this as some gushing others.  I like aspects of it and I think the premise is interesting, but the execution didn't completely work for me.  I've seen a lot of genre films that feel like this lately and I'm not sure what label to use.  Hipster?  Post-horror?  The common denominator is that they all seem gunshy about aiming for audience involvement in the characters and narrative.  When bad things happened in JUG FACE, I felt like I theoretically should care, but I mostly didn't.  The technical and aesthetic aspects are fine, but it's like the movie was all grossed out about emotional connections, like it's some weird old Douglas Sirk thing.  It was more interesting in an academic way than truly involving.

That aside, the genre attributes here are pretty choice.  The Shunned/ghosts were intriguing and I wouldn't have minded seeing more of them.  I also liked the white-eyed psychic episodes whenever it was time for characters to be written out of the plotline.

The acting's pretty consistently good, too, especially leads Sean Bridgers (great performance) and Lauren Carter.  

I'm really struggling to find words for this.  Well-crafted, sure, maybe even quirky, but I'm mostly cool to its charms.  Ehhh.


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