I had read online about this movie and how it was a really great film held together by some really solid performances from the cast. As a result of seeing the good marks I thought I would give Jug Face a try myself and see if I was in a for a good time horror film or if it was going to be a butterface of a film. Thankfully Jug Face offers a fairly engaging story and one of the better performances of how Southern people might behave in some cases.
Jug Face takes places in some southern location centered around a small community that lives in the backwoods further out from a small town where, ‘regular folk’ live. The people in this small commune somehow have come under the influence of some entity that inhabits, for lack of a better word, a deep mudhole that they call the pit. Whatever is lurking in this hole gives visions to a man in the community who will carve out a face in a clay jug that he then fires to reveal a face of a member of the community. The ‘lucky’ person then gets to be sacrificed to the pit and in return the pit can cure diseases and makes sure it doesn’t send out its wrath for not getting a sacrifice.
Needless to say the people of this community make sure the pit is not unhappy.
The movie centers around a teenage girl who…let’s just say…loves her brother…a lot. Also, it turns out that she is pregnant. This girl is also friends with the local potter, the guy who makes the jug faces, and while visiting one day she sneaks a peak at who the next sacrifice is to be. Well since it’s her lucky day…it’s her lovely face on the jug. Before the potter gets the jug from the fire to see who it is she steals the jug and hides it.
As a result things tend to start going downhill for several members in the community due to the pit’s unhappiness as the girl is actively trying to get out of being sacrificed and who is trying to save her child.
The major strong point of this film is the very solid acting from all the cast members on how some Southern people might behave and their ability to speak in a Southern accent. I come from a small town in Tennessee called Jamestown and I know that SOME Southern people portrayed in this movie in some degree exist and some of the practices/mind set of some of the characters in the film are not that far removed from our current times. You have your small town, then you have people in communities that lie maybe 10-20 miles outside of the town who will travel to the town for certain needs or goods. Also, some of these people who live in the outlying communities will have a different way of doing things than the people who live closer to the city limits (this is even somewhat mentioned by a town member in the movie). I think Jug Face does a good job at portraying this, though obviously to an exaggerated state due to the supernatural aspect of the film. A good example of this for me was the girl’s father who, while his ideals on a woman’s role are not going to jive with modern ideals, seemed like a father who genuinely cared for his daughter. On the flip side of this was the mother who…was kind of extreme in her methods. Again I have seen both mindsets in some degree in my hometown.
I have to hand it to the film makers of Jug Face in that they capture a certain way of life of some Southern people that doesn’t feel like a bunch of film students who got an idea for a horror film from a road trip where they talked 15 minutes to a Southerner and then tried to make a horror movie with hillbillies. The filmmakers here did their homework better than most.
On the horror aspect of things the movie has an interesting concept, in that some pit in the woods are sending visions out to a potter so that it can receive sacrifices in return for its good graces. I liked the idea here but the movie never really establishes much of a back story on really what/who the pit is other than an animated chalk drawing at the beginning of the film. This is ok and it’s nice to have some kind of an unknown but it almost seems the horror aspect at times gets pushed to the back of things while other issues are going on with the teenage daughter. Overall though Jug Face still offers a solid foundation of a story.
It sounds like an odd criticism of a movie to say the strong performances detract from the horror element of a horror movie but in some ways it does but not enough to keep you from enjoying Jug Face. While lacking somewhat in developing the pit story more Jug Face offers a nice viewing especially for people from the South as I feel this film gets it right in terms of portraying certain things and not just trying to use a stereotype of Southern people. At no time did I feel there was any disrespect to Southern people…though I know others will especially with the relationship between the brother and sister (though others in the film severely condemned this once discovered). For me however, Jug Face was an engaging film held together by some really great acting from all cast members.
Good job Jug Face.