REVIEW: THE PIT / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: CHAD CRAWFORD KINKLE / SCREENPLAY: CHAD CRAWFORD KINKLE / STARRING: SEAN BRIDGERS, LAUREN ASHLEY CARTER, LARRY FESSENDEN, SEAN YOUNG, DANIEL MANCHE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Originally titled Jug Face, this intriguing feature début from writer/director Kinkle has an assured style, and a deep mythology which will keep one thinking long after the credits roll.
An isolated backwoods community is in jeopardy when young Ada (Carter) discovers Dawai (a brilliantly understated Bridgers), a local potter who has fashioned a jug bearing her face. This means she is next to be sacrificed to 'the Pit': a hole in the ground worshipped, feared and revered as if it were a God. She hides the jug, but things get worse as she finds out she will be 'joined' to a local boy and that she is pregnant – the father being her brother, Jessaby (Manche), something frowned upon even in this hick society. As the Pit has not been satisfied by the chosen sacrifice, it begins taking various locals, who in turn become spirits roaming the forest as 'the shunned'.
Right from the simple but evocative animation which accompanies the opening credits, we become immersed in the film's mythology and ideology. The community has a language of its own, part hick-speak, part Olde English, and seems from another time; though this is very much a contemporary tale. Both Carter and Bridgers played key roles in executive producer Lucky McKee's The Woman, and in a way The Pit shares a similar feel; something off-kilter, infused with warped family values and overbearing parental influence. The matriarch here, played gloriously by Young, is certainly no shrinking violet, vigorously inspecting Ada for both evidence of intercourse and menstruation (“she is dripping”). It is worth noting this is not a mere satire on religion, but it does raise questions about blindly following a belief, regardless of consequence – Ada's resistance to her sacrifice coming, not from a lack of faith, but rather a wish to live. We are in no doubt that the Pit is a real entity, but wisely Kinkle keeps whatever is in there out of sight, as when special effects do come in to play (as with the shunned) they betray the film's low budget. It is a pensive film that works well; eerily atmospheric, impressively acted, and with an effective score, a film which is as organic as the forest. Don't miss it.