The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Jug Face

Jug Face is the best indie horror movie I've seen in years. It takes place in Tennessee, where a backwoods clan worships an unseen entity that resides in a pit in the ground. As long as they make the occasional human sacrifice to it, nobody ever gets sick. Whenever the pit is hungry, a local potter, Dawai (Sean Bridgers), sees a vision and makes a clay pot of someone's face. That person is then fed to the pit. When a young woman named Ada (Lauren Ashley Carter) discovers that she's due to become the next victim, she hides her jug. Ada, it turns out, is pregnant, the result of an incestuous relationship with her brother. She does want to die or lose her baby, so she attempts to fool not only the pit, but also her strict parents (Sean Young and Larry Fessenden). This leads to a variety of grisly complications.

Admittedly, that plot sounds kooky. The great thing is, Jug Face makes it work. The unusual nature of the concept lends the film an air of eeriness. We've never seen anything quite like this, so predicting what will happen or where the plot will go is almost impossible. Writer/director Chad Crawford Kinkle carefully builds a mythology about the pit and the jugs, then adds detail to that mythology so that we understand how everything works. Because so much care was spent in doing this, any potential silliness in the premise fades away, leaving us with something creepy and menacing.

Lauren Ashley Carter (The Woman) gives a terrific performance as Ada. The character is in an almost constant state of panic, which the actress makes relatable. The really interesting thing about Jug Face is that, even though we empathize with Ada and like her, she may actually be the most evil character in the whole film. Her attempts to save her own skin bring misfortune to others. Even after she sees this, she continues trying to avoid the fate that the pit has given her. Carter brings nuance to Ada, creating a horror heroine who isn't a victim.

On a technical level, Jug Face does many things exceedingly well. The atmospheric cinematography, the ominous sound design, and the unnerving look of those jugs all combine in an effective way. The supporting actors are good, too, especially Sean Young, who hits just the right notes as Ada's domineering mother. Most importantly, though, Jug Face tells a really compelling story. It's about more than just scares or shocks, although they're well accounted for; in the end, it's about a young woman facing her destiny, realizing that she doesn't want it, then dealing with the repercussions. This is first-class horror that is worthy of your attention.

( 1/2 out of four)

Note: Jug Face is in select theaters and available on VOD.

Jug Face is rated R for bloody violence, language and brief sexuality. The running time is 1 hour and 21 minutes.

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