Good morning! I’ve queued up yet another play-by-play of yet another one of Netflix’s poorly rated horror offerings to post on here prior to my cross-country flight to Las Vegas! Does that mean “Horrors of Netflix” is over? Unfortunately not, silly. Don’t be ridiculous! It just means that for the next few days- I won’t have much time to sit down and really watch or concentrate on a movie (apart from any in-flight ones I happen to catch) while I enjoy a mini-vacation filled with some gambling, a little boozin’, plenty of sight-seeing- and attending my lovely friend Kelsey’s wedding in Sin City! From there, I make my way out to San Diego for a couple of days- and then head back home to the East Coast.
“Horrors of Netflix” will be back when I return next week!
Until then, I recently sat through ‘Jug Face’, a one-star rated flick from 2013 that should not be confused with the character Jughead Jones from the Archie Comics series.
The synopsis, via Netflix:
“A pregnant teen tries to flee her backwoods community when she learns she’s to be sacrificed to a monstrous beast that lives in a pit near her town.”
Teenage pregnancy? Backwoods communities? A PIT? This sounds delightfully awful!
And as always- my review (see: suffering) through this movie will be placed behind a “CONTINUE READING” cut for those who would rather see ‘Jug Face’ for themselves, for whatever reason. If you do not want to be spoiled- DO NOT CONTINUE.
You’ve been warned!
I’ve watched enough bad horror movies over the years to know that I should probably prepare myself for an opening scene that establishes the “bad guy” or the threat before the rest of the story and it’s characters begin to unravel. While the enemy/threats are interchangeable, the scenes are almost always the same- a person/persons get murdered in the woods or in a house when they go to investigate a strange noise. There’s a chilling phone call or knock at the door that leads up to a side character getting offed. Someone narrates a ridiculous premise or description of the setting of events and it goes from there.
See what I mean?
‘Jug Face’ has the unique distinction of beginning it’s movie with a voiceless narration- told instead via child-like drawings- that depicts a community of pilgrims or Amish folks being ravaged by a bad case of what looks like chicken pox that no amount of Crayola-drawn praying can cure. Per the pictures/animations, the townspeople choose to sacrifice the Priest of their community beside a large pit in the forest- where they then bathe in his blood and are presumably and miraculously healed.
I’m assuming calamine lotion has yet to be discovered at this point, but moving along…
The movie finally goes live-action- kicking off with two hillbilly teens with the most forced Southern accents imaginable chasing each other through the woods where they eventually get bored of running around and decide to have sex up against a tree. The scene is about as uncomfortable as you can imagine, made even more so by another scene entwined within it that depicts some creepy guy making a weird clay head on a pottery wheel in a barn somewhere. If it weren’t for the accents, I’d say this movie probably takes place in Virginia. I’ve been to the middle of nowhere/off the grid in Virginia before and this is eerily reminiscent of that.
Anyway, post tree-bang, the girl- Ada (who is giving me some serious Kristen Stewart vibes)– returns home (it’s a damned shed in the middle of the woods) to find out that she’s to be “joined” with someone- which I assume means she’s found herself in an arranged marriage because- you know- creepy hillbillies and all. She’s clearly not thrilled about it, and excuses herself to go “pray.”
Instead, she goes to splatter some strawberry preserves she has stored in a separate, even more awful looking shed on the inside of her underwear which makes absolutely no sense to me and seems like it’d be a one way ticket to a yeast infection- BUT OKAY. Whatever floats your boat, I suppose.
After that questionable decision making- Ada goes to visit the aforementioned creepy pottery guy in yet another dilapidated shed where she informs him that she’s to be “joined” to some guy and invites him to dinner. He doesn’t seem thrilled about her news OR her invitation- which leads me to believe he has a thing for her or is just extremely socially awkward- and which prompts Ada to bail and head over to his latest arts and crafts project which is still cooking over a fire pit outside. There, she removes the ceramic head we’d caught a glimpse of earlier- which is apparently supposed to be in her likeness. Ada is rightfully horrified- and takes the head to bury in the woods before she has to endure the awkward moment we’ve all experienced where we’ve had to pretend to like a really awful gift someone has presented to us.
Back at her family’s own shitty shed- we meet Ada’s awful mother- who insists on inspecting Ada’s undergarments when Ada mentions that she’d started her good ol’ monthly flow. If that’s not creepy enough for you- the guy Ada had sex with comes to the cabin. Turns out, he’s Ada’s brother. I’ll let you all dry-heave accordingly.
The joining families (who I’m fairly sure were already joined in some way or another) have a stereotypical redneck engagement party that night- complete with moonshine and square-dancing to banjos and spoons-against-the-knees. Ada’s brother, drunk and bitter that his sister/girlfriend is going to wed someone else (probably a cousin)– pulls her aside to tell her that in order to be married she’s going to have to pass some sort of virginity test- and when she fails, she’s not to mention his name. I’M SO GROSSED OUT BY THIS ENTIRE SERIES OF EVENTS. And I’m barely a half hour into this!
After everyone leaves, Ada brings some leftover food to her grandfather- who is holed up in a nearby RV because why not? She confides in him that she knows who the next “Jug Face” is- because it’s her- which I guess means that terrible ceramic likeness she buried in the woods has more meaning than I originally thought.
The next day, Ada and her hick father head into town (an actual town! Not just a series of sheds and cars!) to sell his mason jar moonshine. While there, Ada takes the opportunity to steal a pregnancy test from a local pharmacy that she takes once she’s back in the comfort of her closet-sized bathroom (I’m legitimately surprised this family has indoor plumbing.) In an even more disgusting turn of events- Ada finds out she is pregnant with her gross brother’s offspring.
Resisting the urge to throw herself off of a cliff, Ada instead heads to a nearby creek to do laundry with one of her sisters/cousins/friends/who-knows-because-this-entire-family-is-gross. They keep making reference to a pit in the forest while they talk- and the way it’s mentioned alludes to it being some sort of holy or divine presence in their community- like a shrine or something. When Ada goes to hang up some of the clothes to dry, she is suddenly gripped by a vision of the woman washing clothes with her being attacked by an unseen force- and when she comes to- the vision has come to fruition.
The woman has been dragged and dismembered outside the pit, which is really just an unimpressive hole in the ground that could probably be filled with concrete and forgotten about (and subsequently solve everyone’s problems), but everyone gathers around it to have a conversation, instead. It’s revealed that the pit can somehow communicate with the creepy pottery guy- but he swears it hasn’t said dick to him about the woman it just murdered somehow.
At a town/sheds meeting that night, we also learn that the town apparently lives by the “Jug Face” code. The pit speaks to the creepy pottery guy, the creepy pottery guy creates a clay bust of someone in the community he sees in his vision- and that person is then sacrificed to the pit. If the potter were able to remember who he saw in his vision, then things would probably be much easier- but he can’t- and he’s instead prompted to search his property for any missing busts to make sure he didn’t overlook anything. Ada even helps with the search- even though she knows goddamned well where the jug is- and instead finds one with a fetus carved into the side of it. WUH OH.
Back at her respective shed/home, Ada’s mom decides it’s as good a time as ever to make sure Ada is still a virgin for her forced marriage despite the fact that her daughter has had a pretty traumatic and exhausting day. It’s one of the most disturbing scenes in an already screwed up movie- especially because Ada’s mom resorts to burning her daughter with a lit cigarette when she’s non-compliant with simply spreading her legs for an impromptu examination by a woman who is CLEARLY not a gynecologist. As a woman, I admit I squirmed uncomfortably.
Ada’s mom somehow figures out that Ada lost her virginity, and punishes her with the lit end of her Marlboro some more before sending her off to bed. Ada’s father, who is strangely understanding and reassuring- offers her some words of comfort before Ada’s brother comes into the room. Once the two siblings are alone, Ada tells her brother she’s pregnant.
Some time later (it’s hard to tell, because none of the characters’ outfits or appearances change at ALL)– the community of all 11 people gather around the pit for their annual human sacrifice- which explains why there’s so few of them. To no one’s dismay, the jug-face-thing the potter reveals is the likeness of Ada’s husband-to-be. Rather than question this stupid and pointless tradition or even fight off the minimal remaining folks in their white trash shed cul-de-sac to get away- the guy goes through with having his throat cut over the pit and everyone else just goes about their business like it’s any other normal day of inbreeding and whatever else they do.
While Ada is taking care of her grandfather, she is visited by the ghost/demon/whatever of a boy who had also hid his own jug/mug/calling it a “jug face” is so stupid- and now he’s, you know, cursed to float around and be creepy and emaciated for all eternity. He tells Ada she has to accept her fate and be sacrificed to the pit- but she’s not having it- and instead hides her jug in a completely different location like it’s going to help at all. As a result, the pit claims Ada’s brother when he climbs into it after-the-fact in the hopes that it can help cure a fever he’s running now that they’ve already killed one of their own in it earlier that afternoon/day/week to appease it. Ada sees the entire thing unfold through another weird vision.
Enraged, Ada’s father and her former (now dead) fiance’s father track down the potter- blaming him for the pit acting volatile and proceed to beat the hell out of him before they drag him to the pit themselves to sacrifice in a desperate attempt to sort of reset everything and start from scratch. They tie the potter to a tree for the night to prepare- but Ada frees him when she finally seems to realize that the chain of events have been set into motion because of her (and also her weird, backwards, hillbilly community- but her, too.)
The two flee town, heading back to actual civilization to try and sell some moonshine they’ve taken with them so that they have money to get Ada to an actual Doctor that isn’t an invasive immediate family member. While they take refuge in the back of the pharmacy where Ada stole her dreaded pregnancy test- she has another vision of someone else in her community being killed- but she shows a little common sense by not really giving a shit once it passes.
Unfortunately, the two are found out and forcibly taken back to the shed community by Ada’s father where they are tied up and whipped as punishment. Ada later miscarries as a result of the trauma and soon her parents find out the disgusting truth about how the unborn fetus came to be in the first place. Horrified, Ada is locked in her room while her mother and father try to figure out how this will affect the NEW arranged marriage they’ve planned for her- but Ada bails out of her first floor window and goes to seek the help of the demon/entity that has been haunting her visions. While she asks if there’s anyway out of this mess- the pit claims her father- and Ada decides enough is enough and opts to face the music and accept being sacrificed alongside the potter.
I’m a little confused, since Ada’s refusal to follow her weird redneck community’s customs is resulting in the deaths of literally every single awful person she has in her life- so I don’t really understand why she wouldn’t just let that keep happening until there was nobody left (or at least hold out until her terrible mother gets killed) but she’s more forgiving than I would be, I suppose. She offers herself up for sacrifice to the pit after spending a night chained to a tree beside the potter- who confesses his love for her- and gets her throat slit.
That’s it. That’s the end of the movie.
You know, this movie COULD have been pretty good. It really could have. You can’t really go wrong with backwards hillbillies being scary as fuck (think ‘Deliverance’, ‘Wrong Turn’, and ‘The Hills Have Eyes’,) but the whole pit/human sacrifice aspect of ‘Jug Face’ just did NOT fit at all. We didn’t even get any mention of the community’s origins or any type of throwback to the cartoon animation intro. The story just dragged to the point where it felt much longer than it’s near hour and a half running time and none of the characters- sans Ada and the eccentric potter guy- were particularly memorable.
I’m hoping my Vegas/San Diego vacation can help me forget the bad taste this movie left in my mouth.
‘Til next time!