Just released on Region 2 DVD by 101 Films is THE PIT, which did the rounds on the UK festival circuit as JUG FACE - also the title it went by on its US release. Whatever distributors fancy calling it, THE PIT is a splendid little slice of backwoods US horror that’s well worth your attention.
A small hillbilly community gets by on selling the moonshine it makes to the local town. Any roadkill they find they keep to supplement their own diet. This existence is by no means carefree, however, and by means of a clever title sequence that resembles SIMON IN THE LAND OF CHALK DRAWINGS GOES TO HELL, we learn that after falling victim to ‘the pox’ they sacrificed their preacher to a nebulous something that came to live in the pit at the centre of their village-cum-trailer park. Since then the thing in the pit has cared for them and healed them, and all it asks in return is a regular sacrifice.
The method by which the sacrifice is chosen has to win the award for the most original to pop up in a movie for many a year. Simple-minded Dawai (Sean Bridgers, giving a performance to rival that in executive producer Lucky McKee’s own directorial effort THE WOMAN) goes into a trance and fashions a clay jug on which is sculpted the face of the pit’s next victim. When that next victim turns out to be teenager Ada (Lauren Ashley Carter), pregnant by her brother and betrothed to the bovine Bodey (Mathieu Whitman), she hides the jug before anyone can see it and thus brings death and disaster to the community.
When you see the names of Larry Fessenden (acting this time), Lucky McKee (executive producer) and producer Andrew van den Houyten you know you’re going to be in safe hands and THE PIT / JUG FACE doesn’t disappoint. The acting is fine across the board, with Fessenden taking out his dental plate to play the father of the community, Sean Young offering up some serious competition for Kelly McGillis in the unrecognisable-80s-actresses-appearing-in-low-budget-US-horror stakes, and Sean Bridgers playing the character who gets almost all the audience sympathy. In a year that has seen GODZILLA bring back our old friend H P Lovecraft’s sense of overwhelming horror to the screen, it’s also very pleasing indeed to be reviewing a film in which, with its sense of a malignant natural force exploiting the people closest to the land, it’s possible to see the influence of Welsh writer Arthur Machen .
101 Films’ DVD is a bare bones affair with no extras at all. But get it anyway - it might just be one of the best low budget horror films you’ll see all year.
101 Films released THE PIT (aka JUG FACE) on Region 2 DVD on the 9th June 2014