‘Jug Face’ is an original take on the haunting/curse genre, with a healing pit at the centre of the ghastly goings on and murderous plot which follows.
The setup to the plot is told silently through animated credits at the beginning of the movie where we see the inhabitants of a small ‘traditional’ community being ravaged by the pox – presumably small pox and their solution to cure their ailments. It would appear that a small deep pit dug on the outskirts of their village has healing properties, but at a cost. One of the villagers is chosen as ‘a potter’, the medium through which ‘the pit’ can speak through, and every now and then the pit will possess and cause the potter to produce a clay jug whose design bears a resemblance to one of the villagers. Give the pit what it wants, then it will allow any sick villagers to heal themselves within its waters, don’t and it will keep claiming victims until it does!
Overall the plot is most definitely the strongest element to the movie. The decision to set it in modern times, but still within the ‘traditional’ community gives it a surreal, but more or less conceivable basis for the story to be told. The characters in the movie are very diverse and the actors bring these backwoods stereotypes to live with conviction. By the end of the movie you will care about every single one, and whilst I wouldn’t go as far to say this is a drama by any stretch of the word it surprised me how much this movie kept my attention despite having little in the ways of violence or scares.
Tension is maintained through effective story telling. A lot happens in ‘Jug Face’, and to say too much would ruin its effect, but as revelation after revelation sweeps the community it leaves you unsure where the movie is going, but never with that whole ‘not sure what’s going on’ level of frustration; still the pace they are revealed at is brisk to say the least.
As I have already said the violence is limited in the movie, but the little that is shown has a big impact. The effects are solid, the blood looks real enough, and the actors do an excellent job dealing with themes such as domestic abuse, ritual sacrifice and corporal punishment.
The weakest element of the movie for me would be the scares. Whilst it is apparent that this movie was never intended to be a pant shitting experience, the CGI ethereal effect on the ghostly elements of the movie really pulled it out of its setting. This is becoming quite a trend, where the ghost looks shit owed to cheap effects. With Asian specials such as ‘The Grudge and ‘The Eye’ having the most creepy ghosts ever, decades ago with minimal CGI input, I wish film directors would take inspiration from these iconic movies when designing their revenants.
Overall though, the ghost is in it so little it cannot detract from the other effective elements of the movie. ‘Jug Face’ is a great movie, and one seasoned horror fans should make an effort to watch. It’s both familiar yet original, with a great plot, fantastic acting and some great ideas. If you are looking for something a bit different then settle in and become engrossed.