Monday, August 07, 2017

Vamp or Not? Jug Face

Also known as The Pit, Jug Face was directed by Chad Crawford Kinkle and released in 2013. The film was mentioned by Simon bacon in Becoming Vampire who said “a patch of land seems to draw the life-force out of all who come near it and as such acts as a vampiric object” (pg 88).

It is the pit itself that is the focal point for this, hence the alternative name, but is it actually vampiric? Well, let us see.

The opening credits pictorially give us the history of this backwoods area and the community that lives there. We see the people diseased, a blood sacrifice into the pit and then the diseased bathing in the pit – so there is an inference of bathing in blood. What we find is a community that worships the pit (or more accurately something, a spirit perhaps, that lives within the local environs, perhaps even within the pit.)

Sean Bridgers as Dawai
The entity (it is referred to as a thing that awakens and so I will continue to refer to it as such) has a chosen person it communicates with. Dawai (Sean Bridgers) is this potter – an individual who is placed into a trance by the entity, during which his eyes are milky and unseeing, and who then creates a pot jug, with the face of the one the pit has chosen. Dawaii is therefore much like a familiar who is directly communicated with but on a psychic level.

Lauren Ashley Carter as Ada
The main character is Ada (Lauren Ashley Carter) a teenage girl who, when we first meet her, is with a young man called Jessaby (Daniel Manche, I Sell the Dead). She ignores his pleading for sex by the pit but takes him some distance away for the act. When she gets home she is informed that she is to be joined to another youth, Bodey (Mathieu Whitman). We soon discover that Jessaby is Ada’s brother and thus their intercourse in incestuous. Incest has often been seen as a gateway to vampirism – indeed the back story of the fake vampire in Mark of the vampire was one of incest and suicide, until it was deemed too shocking and was relegated to the cutting room floor.

the pit
Ada knows that her purity will be tested, as a pre-requisite to the joining, and she paints blood into the gusset of her knickers in order to suggest that she is on her period. She also looks into Dawai’s kiln and realises that the jug head in the kiln has her likeness, so she takes it and buries it, knowing that it means she is to be sacrificed. There is a celebration of the joining’s announcement in the evening, with Jessaby keen to ensure that Ada doesn’t put her impurity onto him.

Larry Fessenden as Sustin
When she accompanies her father, Sustin (Larry Fessenden, Stake Land, Stake Land 2, Habit & also I Sell the Dead), into town, where he makes money selling moonshine, she asks him whether the pit has ever taken a baby and he says it has. Whilst in the chemists she steals a pregnancy test – which back home shows positive. However by hiding the jug she has broken the community’s covenant with the entity.

having a vision
Ada starts having visions, and these prove to be her seeing through the entity as it awakens and attacks community members to punish her (and the community) for the break of the covenant. When this occurs her eyes become milky. The victims are either taken at the pit or dragged there and we never see what it is. Ada also starts to see a spectral boy (Alex Maizus). He is one of “the Shunned” and it is revealed that those killed by the pit (rather than being sacrificed to it) are forced to spectrally walk the woods for eternity – so, in its own way, the pit creates undead of its victims.

It transpires that Dawai had made a jug that he hadn’t shown anyone, as it was a baby and no one was with child (that he was aware of) and so thought it a mistake. As mentioned he makes the jugs in a trance and when he comes around he feels strange, but has no memory of the process or the jug itself. Thus he doesn’t know that the second one was of Ada. He tries to pull a face from his subconscious and makes one of Bodey. Thinking it is what the pit wants, Bodey is sacrificed; his throat slit over the pit into which he bleeds out. Of course, it isn’t the sacrifice the pit wants and the reprisal kills continue.

remains in the pit
The one to die, after the sacrifice, is ill and has been taken to the pit for healing. So the pit/entity not only desires and demands blood (and specific blood at that) but can also heal. The healing process involves getting into the pit and immersing oneself in the waters – which, of course suggests a bathing in blood. We have no reason to not believe that the healing would normally have occurred. I won’t spoil the story further as we have all the elements needed to judge the film.

the shunned
So we have an entity, I’d guess – after all it can leave the pit – perhaps a spirit or if it is a creature we don’t see it. I might go as far as to suggest it is an avatar of the spirit of the land. It demands a blood sacrifice and actively chooses the one it wants (unlike the shunned, the chosen ones are said to then walk with it). If it fails to get the chosen one, it destructively punishes those who have a covenant with it and those killed, rather than are sacrificed (ie made holy), become undead and walk the woods (normally invisibly, perhaps they can allow themselves to be seen or perhaps those who are between the two worlds can see them – Ada is in such a place having been chosen). It is her transgression, it would seem, that has led to her being chosen – the fact that she is carrying a baby conceived through incest.

Ok, it is unusual, but I think Simon is right and there is a vampiric element to this. Whether consciously included by Kinkle, who wrote as well as directed the film, I don’t know – but it’s definitely there.

The imdb page is here.

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