Jug Face is the first feature from writer/director Chad Crawford Kinkle, who made a fantastic short horror film called Organ Grinder a couple of years back. Based on the strength of that short, which was about a woman who (seriously) fucks the evil out of demon possessed men, I decided to give this flick a shot to see if he had what it took to make an entire movie (at 80 minutes it’s barely feature length).
Unfortunately this is one boring and pointless film.
A more broad description of the plot is that the pit dwelling creature, which we never see, sends visions of its chosen sacrifice to the town’s potter, Dawai (Sean Bridgers), who in turn creates a jug with that person’s face on it to give proof that they have been marked for death. That person, be it an elderly person or an infant, has their throat slashed and is left to bleed to death over the pit to feed the beast. In return for the sacrifices the creature heals the community members whenever they fall ill. In the past it cured the entire cult of a pox that had befallen them. The teenaged Ada (Lauren Ashley Carter), who has just discovered she is pregnant, hides her jug when she is chosen in order to protect her unborn child. This incurs the wrath of the creature who begins to kill random community members until it receives its sacrifice.
It’s a unique story, that’s for sure. I have a feeling that Kinkle has a fondness for unusual takes on the standard horror clichés and Jug Face is proof of that (just watch Organ Grinder to see this proven further). The problem is that the story is told in such a low key and meandering way that it’s a chore to get through in one sitting. And to compound matters even further there is so much filler, so many side characters and way too many dumb developments introduced that as I watched it I realized that this was a short film that had been stretched to 80 minutes.
For example - The goofily executed and worthless ghost boy that Ada continually sees does nothing to advance the story. He is mostly there to pad out the story a bit and give Ada someone to get exposition from or tell exposition to so the audience can get a clue as to what’s going on. The Grandfather character is worthless too for the same reasons.
The performances from the leads are decent. Lauren Ashley Carter does a great job of selling her plight to the audience and making us believe that there really is some evil, yet slightly benevolent, monster living in that mud pit at the center of town. I can see her going places if she can snag some higher profile roles. Sean Bridgers is okay as the town drunk/idiot whose pottery hobby has taken a dark turn. Most of the time he just stares off into space, but I suspect that was an acting choice and not his inability to perform. The rest of the cast are pretty bad all around. I haven’t seen Sean Young (Blade Runner, Dune, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective) in over a decade, but I wish she had stayed away if her turn here as Ada’s kooky mother is any indication of how much she’s honed her craft over the years.
Kinkle doesn’t shy away from the gore. There is plenty of the red stuff splashed about over the course of the film (I could have done without the tub scene though). The cinematography is at times lush and beautiful. Other times it’s as murky and ugly as the inside of that pit. Kinkle definitely has the technical aspect of filmmaking down, but really needs to focus more on his storytelling and making sure his actors aren’t phoning it in like most of them are here.
I guess you can say that Jug Face is a coming of age movie of sorts. We get to see a young, ignorant and rebellious young girl grow up and begin to act like a responsible adult. The problem is that the film is so uninteresting and boring that I could really give a shit. I really disliked this flick intensely. There is some good stuff here and there, such as the ballsy way events do end up panning out, but for the most part Jug Face was a waste of my time.
I do look forward to Chad Crawford Kinkle’s next project though. He is talented, but he just needs go all in to make the classic genre film I know he has deep within.
1 out of 5