Welcome to a not at all special BLACK Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or trample your neighbors to get a PS4. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.
I’m pretty sure Jug Face (Amazon Prime) is the first Amazon-exclusive I’ve done in this space. That probably says something about Amazon’s status in the streaming wars but whatevsers. Backwoods hillbillies, human sacrifice and a hole in the ground. JUG FACE.
There’s one thing you just have to accept if you’re going to enjoy Jug Face: its total lack of authentic Ozark redneckery. Though they shindig and moonshine all over the damn place, Winter’s Bone this is not. While many in the cast do a passable job of imitating inbred white trash, some fail spectacularly. The second worst offender is a pretty boy soap opera actor named Daniel Manche, who sticks out mostly because of his impossibly clean cut good looks. (“I knew I shouldn’t have gotten laser hair removal on my face!”) Then there’s the most outrageously bad performance in the whole damn movie: Sean fucking Young. That’s right, the lady who was so fantastic in Blade Runner, Ace Ventura and Fire Birds (the greatest apache helicopter movie ever made) is downright painful in this movie. Perhaps it’s because she’s not great at dialect work. Or maybe, being by far the biggest star involved in the project – perhaps a project she considered a paycheck and nothing more – she just got wasted in her trailer every day and phoned it in.
Either way, she does a disservice to an otherwise committed ensemble including Lauren Ashley Carter and Sean Bridgers, who previously did great work together in 2011’s The Woman. I really enjoyed Bridgers in that movie, and he’s even better here. His unusual line readings and visible thought process are only reason his character, Dawai the dimwitted soothsayer, isn’t an offensive cliché.
Leaving aside a few terrible performances (and a questionable use of raisonneur ghosts dressed up like African tribesmen from Congo) Jug Face is a decent little supernatural thriller. It’s exactly what you’d want from an indie horror movie: it creates a budget-minded but adequately mysterious mythology, and avoids overreaching. This is not a difficult formula but it’s one that’s rarely followed.
Added Bonus: This movie was written and directed by a guy named Chad Crawford Kinkle. (Now if that doesn’t sound like a name that comes from an authentic line of Ozark redneckery, I don’t know what does.) His script consistently makes excellent, disturbing choices, from a shockingly casual use of incest to a brutal climax. He doesn’t get cute or try to do anything fancy. The finale just follows through on what’s been set up, dragging the film to a perfect, heart-wrenching conclusion.