BARE BONES: DARLING and GHOST WORLD

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DARLING (2015)

Strange flick tells the story of Darling, (Jug Face’s Lauren Ashley Carter) a pretty young woman who takes on the job of being the caretaker of an old Manhattan apartment that is allegedly haunted. As Darling spends more and more time there, we start to find out that Darling has just as much of a past as the house…and thus start to question who is more haunted, the apartment or it’s caretaker.

Written and directed by Michael Keating this is an unnerving film told in six chapters and with minimal characters, focusing mostly on Darling. It has more of an offbeat narrative and evokes flicks like Eraserhead with it’s stark black and white photography, somber mood and split second flashes of disturbing imagery. It has some brutally violent moments and an ending you can see coming but works well anyway. When all is said and done, it is an unnerving little movie made so by both it’s story and it’s style of storytelling. Also stars Brian Morvant as a man who Darling meets and brings home and Sean Young as the owner “Madame”.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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GHOST WORLD (2001)

Quirky offbeat comedy tells of two friends (Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson) who walk to the beat of their own drums, but need to find their direction after they graduate high school. Rebellious Enid (Birch) seems to be content to let things remain the same, despite being unhappy at home, while Becky (Johansson) decides they should move into their own place and get jobs. Becky’s forward motion starts them growing apart and Enid’s quest to amuse herself leads her to befriending a strange and lonely older man (Steve Buscemi).

Ghost World is based on Daniel Clowes graphic novel and as directed by Crumb director Terry Zwigoff, is a charming and sometimes funny study of two offbeat young girls at a crucial point in their lives. Birch and Johansson are good and work well together, thought the film focuses more on the cynical Enid and her sarcastic view of those around her. Buscemi is charming as the nerdy and shy Seymour and succeeds in making the character sympathetic and likable when he could have been very creepy. Zwigoff takes us on a strange journey as these characters find their own paths through their interaction with each other and while some may not like the ambiguous end, it does fit the tone of the film. Not for everyone, but for those who enjoy the offbeat and different, Ghost World is an entertaining little movie.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: JUG FACE (2013)

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JUG FACE (2013)

Jug Face is a very odd and offbeat low budget horror and while it wasn’t scary or particularly suspenseful, it was unsettling, effective and original. So, as someone who supports and is a big fan of low budget indie horror, especially something unusual and off the beaten path, I did like this little movie for it’s unique and atmospheric tale.

The Tennessee filmed story takes place in a remote little backwoods community that is presided over by a supernatural force/being that resides in a large sinkhole in the woods nearby. It watches over the village and heals their ills and in return requires an occasional sacrifice. Those who are chosen are selected through an eccentric potter named Dawai (Sean Bridges) who enters a trance-like state and creates a ceramic jug with a village resident’s likeness. That villager is then taken to the pit and offered up as sacrifice. Enter teen Ada (Lauren Ashley Carter) who has two secrets that she is keeping from her parents (indie horror fixture Larry Fessenden and Blade Runner’s Sean Young). One, she’s been having sex with her brother Jessaby (Daniel Manche) and is pregnant…and two, Dawai, who is smitten with Ada, has sculpted a jug with her likeness and she found and hid it before he came out of the pit induced trance. Denied a sacrifice, the thing in the pit is taking out it’s displeasure on village residents in gruesome fashion and Ada must decide what matters more, her own life and that of her unborn child, or the lives of the village members who are paying the price of her deception. Worse still, the entity in the pit forces her to envision the violent and painful death it exacts on each of it’s victims.

Writer/director Chad Crawford Kinkle gives his off-beat little horror some nice atmosphere and a sense of foreboding and wisely works within the confines of his low budget and gives it a charming aura of being set in it’s own little backwoods world. We rarely leave the little community except for a few short instances where the characters go into the city to sell moonshine, which is their trade. And doing so, it makes us more accepting of the possibility that this place and it’s supernatural resident could exist deep in the woods in rural America somewhere apart from what we consider the real world. As stated, the film is never really scary or suspenseful and once the credits roll, we realize that there are no big revelations or dramatic conclusions, but it is a small tale that only breaks out of it’s subtle telling for some startling splashes of blood and gore when our creature of the pit vents it’s wrath. Kinkle does use his subtle style to his advantage as when he needs to shock us with spurting blood or flying limbs…which are effectively portrayed…it works because we are not ready for it. As for Kinkle’s sinkhole inhabitant, we never fully see it, but it is given menace and and it’s presence can be felt through the behavior and strong beliefs of the characters, giving it far more life then some cold digital effect might have. Jug Face is refreshingly old school and it works.

The director also gets good work out of his cast with the pretty Carter successfully carrying a lot on her shoulders and Bridgers creating a likable and somewhat sad man in Dawai, who doesn’t really want to be the one through which the creature selects it’s offerings, but does what he is asked to do regardless. Fessenden and Young also create a portrait of simple people with simple ways and a very strong belief in the traditions of their life centered around the pit and that adherence to it’s ways transcends individuality or family, for the greater good. And that also seems to be a theme running subtly beneath Kinkle’s chilling story, the question of whether following tradition or rebelling against it is a good thing or bad thing and we are left to draw our own conclusions as either seems to bring consequence.

Jug Face is an interesting and effective little movie that will not appeal to everyone, especially those who prefer their horror more traditional, but you have to give Kinkle and crew points for making something original and outside the box, as well as, making a film effectively within their means and with a more down to earth style in an age where filmmakers are far too eager to pull out the digital toys. It’s an interesting and odd little horror and if off the beaten path is where you prefer your horror to take you, then you might want to give this little flick a try. Chad Crawford Kinkle may prove to be a filmmaker to keep an eye on.

3 jugs.

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