Movie Review – Jug Face (2013)

Small-budget horror films are too often formulaic and predictable, save for a sacred few each year, and it’s therefore always welcome for an unconventional entry to defy one’s expectations. 2013’s Jug Face is one such movie, filmed in Tennessee and telling the story of a backwoods community that makes regular sacrifices to a pit in order to keep its favor. The next victim is revealed in visions to the simple-minded Dawai (Sean Bridgers) who enters a trance and creates a clay jug with their face upon it. A local teenage girl (Lauren Ashley Carter), pregnant from her brother, finds out she’s the next intended victim and hides the jug before anyone can see it, thus setting off a series of unfortunate events as the pit’s entity emerges to kill members of the community one-by-one until it is satiated with its desired target. Say what you will, but it’s certainly an original premise.

Writer-director Chad Crawford Kinkle manages to weave the unsavory hillbilly tropes of incest and moonshine into an entertaining plot. The result is off-beat and at times quirky, but it never devolves too far into farce, thus allowing us to in some degree sympathize with our central characters. Not everything works, such as the image of the ghost boy, and by the third act the story threatens to grow redundant, but the film is elevated by confident direction and a strong cast. Carter carries the central role well, but it is Bridgers who steals the show. For those who have seen these two actors in 2011’s The Woman, where their roles are very different, you can’t help but be amazed at their transformations here. The interactions between the two are some of the best scenes in the movie and give the film its heart.

Jug Face is a bit clunky in places, and the ending is unfortunately underwhelming, but it’s an imaginative tale that showcases genuine talent both on and off the screen.

Grade: C+