BLACK Friday Night Flix: Jug Face

jugface6Welcome 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.

jugface3There’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.

jugface4Either 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.

jugface5Leaving 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.

Friday Night Flix: The Woman

thewoman1Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. 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 generally a fan of Bloody Disgusting. I often find myself at odds with the reviews but when it comes to horror news there’s nothing else on the internet that’s nearly as thorough. I won’t ever need to read an entire post about the DVD release date for Gallowwalkers (welcome back, Wwesley!), but it’s nice to know I could if I wanted to.

The one thing I’ve always wondered about is the site’s BD Selects film distro arm. I gather the way works is when the staff digs an unsold movie, BD buys the rights and pushes it out to DVD, Netflix and various VOD partners. Where I have trouble is when Bloody goes and gives one of those movies a great review. From what I can tell the reviews come out first but still, seems like a conflict of interest. I suppose I shouldn’t complain. While I’ve been letdown on occasion, this setup gets more decent genre fare into my eyeholes than would otherwise be possible. And it’s certainly worth sitting through a few stinkers (Exit Humanity? Exit My TV!) if it means every now and then I’ll get stuff like The Woman. (Netflix, Hulu.)

thewoman2The Woman just barely qualifies as horror thanks to some nasty but forgettable gore. What sets it apart is the two main characters: the titular female and her tormentor, a domineering lawyer with a short fuse and some seriously twisted family values. The Woman herself is made special by the fearless commitment of Pollyana McIntosh, whom I suspect we’ll be seeing much more often in the near future. Not to be outdone, Sean Bridges brings a placid insanity to the father role that’s both amusing and terrifying. The control he exerts over his helpless family coupled with their complacent participation in hideous acts of cruelty present a fascinating (if ever so slightly implausible) dynamic. Take away the feral cannibal chained up in the cellar and you’d still be left with a sharp commentary on the cycles of abuse.

the woman3Added bonus: Though she has terrible hygiene and rotting teeth, the wild woman appears to regularly shave her legs and armpits. Sure that doesn’t make much sense but I laud the director’s judgment: showing someone getting their face chewed off is one thing, but female body hair is just gross.