M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Three of my decade-long Retro-Best in Horror recap Countdowns begins officially on October 1, 2012 and goes through September 30, 2013. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t!

How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st, 2012 and September 30, 2013 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number—31. Again, I never call myself any kind of expert in horror. I simply watch a lot of horror films and love writing about them. Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

Released on July 8, 2013 and available on digital download, On Demand and BluRay/DVD here!

JUG FACE (2013)

Directed by Chad Crawford Kinkle
Written by Chad Crawford Kinkle
Starring Sean Bridgers, Lauren Ashley Carter, Larry Fessenden, Katie Groshong, Alex Maizus, Daniel Manche, Sean Young
Find out more about this film here!

JUG FACE is produced by director Lucky McKee, stars two of the stars of one of my favorite horror films in recent years THE WOMAN, and even has a soundtrack by the same musician, Shawn Spillane. So you know I love it! Though this is an entirely different film, one can’t help but feel the magic captured in THE WOMAN in this new film JUG FACE.

The story is an unconventional one focusing on a community of backwoods-folk in the woods of Tennessee. Lead by patriarch Sustin (Larry Fessenden, the mastermind behind the excellent teleplay series TALES FROM BEYOND THE PALE and many, many awesome indie films of his own), the family worship a creature that lives in a shallow pit in the middle of the woods. In order to appease this beast, a sacrifice must be made and when the potter of family Dewai (played by THE WOMAN’s Sean Bridgers) receives a vision, a ceramic jug with the face of the sacrifice is made. This is a ritual that seemingly has gone on for ages and it is viewed as an honor for those chosen by the put to death at the pit’s edge, but the wide-eyed Ada (THE WOMAN’s Lauren Ashley Carter) finds out she is to be the next sacrifice and hides the jug before anyone can see. That’s not the only secret she has as she has had an incestuous relationship with her brother Jessaby (Daniel Manche) under the nose of her protective mother (played by Sean Young). Hiding the pot and the unborn incest baby in her belly, Ada causes a series of events that topple the delicate peace treaty the hillbilly family has with the beast in the pit.

Oozing with everything from hillbilly culture to Chthulhuian cultism, director Chad Crawford Kinkle plays out an intricate plot of love, betrayal, and a pit monster. The talented actors who make up the cast make everything engaging. Every one of the actors give it their all and Carter shows star chops carrying most of the film with her petite frame, but powerful performance. Sean Bridgers who was so good at being bad in THE WOMAN, is equally talented here as the slightly mentally delayed psychic link to the beast in the pit. And Fessenden and Young play overprotective parents and religious zealots well making them dislikable and likable all at once. Every character is developed well, which made the story easy to dive into.

There is plenty of horrific scenes as the sacrifices are bloody and many. As people are bled out into the pit, others are left as piles of guts and gore after the beast attacks. Though some of the effects shots are definitely of the lower budget caliber, it still makes for some creepy scenes of ghostly specters and creepy monsters.

Some will be disappointed as the beast in the pit is not revealed, most likely due to budgetary constraints, but also it would never live up to monster we create in our heads. Also, the film seems to lose steam in the last act as the emotional whirlwind that goes on in the first hour seems to die down and the final scenes are spent dealing with the revelations and ramifications of Ada and Dewai’s actions.
I was thoroughly entertained by the performances, though I was left a bit nonplussed by the sudden end. Still, the drama and intensity of the script as spouted by the talented cast make up for what the final moments lack.

JUG FACE in no way is tied to THE WOMAN, though it does seem to have a lot of the folks in front of and behind the camera involved in it. Still, I couldn’t help but feel as if these two films are linked in some way as they both deal with unconventional and ugly family rules, mores, and customs and how those things can become twisted manacles around the ankles of those who have the unfortunate luck of being born into it. JUG FACE has some fantastic acting and offers up an interesting view on the hillbilly culture. It’s also quite bloody to appease my appetite for that type of thing. Though not as controversial as THE WOMAN, it does get pretty intense and if you’re a fan of McKee and Ketchum’s film, you’re bound to find things to like with JUG FACE as well.

THE 2012-2013 COUNTDOWN!

#16 – JUG FACE
#23 – V/H/S/2
#24 – MON AMI

M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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