Dementer & Jug Face - Dementer & Jug Face( Blu Ray) [Arrow Video - 2021]
This new two-disc blu ray set from Arrow Video brings together two films from up ‘n’ coming US Indie Horror director Chad Crawford Kinkle. There’s 2019’s Dementer, a psychological thriller set in a special needs home, and Jug Face from 2013 a cult drama come tripped out organic fantasy edged with gore moments. Both films have backwoods/ folk horror elements in their make-up, as well as creative dark art edges. And as we’ve come to expect from Arrow Video release, we get two great interesting extras packed discs.
The first disc takes in Dementer this is from the year 2019 and is best described as an off-kilter at points low-grade arty psychological thriller. The film is an often-jarring mix of fire, blood and nighttime unease and decidedly amateurish special needs home set drama. It features actors and non-actors- and I’d certainly say it’s somewhat of an acquired taste. The film focuses on troubled thirty-something Katie (Katie Groshong)- who has just got a job at a home for special needs adults, quickly she becomes close, then decidedly obsessed with Stephanie (Stephanie Kinkle- the director's real-life sister) a thirty-something woman with down syndrome. Katie has an extremely troubling background- as we often get flashbacks of her time in a fire ‘n’ blood led backwords cult. The flashbacks really are the highlight in the film, as there full of jarring unease and creepiness- as we get nude blood-drenched figures standing in front of a night-time fires, nude females been chased by a pick-up over night-time marshes, jittering images of skulls, bones, and general dark ritual linked images. The drama, building light thriller elements are decidedly uneven- due to the use of non-actors, who are very mixed in their believability/ acting skills- also the pacing/ structure of this part of the film feels a little lose and lacklustre. Ms Groshong, who is an actor, isn’t bad in the lead- and mangers to portray well the feeling of someone who is troubled, possible unbalanced/ dangerous. Ms Kinkle is clearly very affected by her syndrome, though she does her best here with the role. The real issue here is the other staff at the home, who are largely very amateurish/ bad. We have some worthy supporting acting from a few of the home's residents, and Larry Fessenden(We Are Still Here) whose connected with the backwoods cult. The use of sound and uneasy-to-jarring ritual ambient is well done/ most effective. Overall, Dementer certainly has its moments of deep bone-chilling horror, and unease- it’s just a pity the pacing/ drama elements are very uneven.
On this first disc we get a good selection of extras- first off, we have three new commentary tracks- one with writer-director Kinkle, one with lead actress Katie Groshong, cinematographer Jeff Wedding and writer-director Kinkle, and one with film critic Chris Hallock and writer-director Kinkle in conversation. I only listened to the first directors only track, and this is most insightful and interesting. He starts discussing the opening montage of images & their meaning, he talks about the handwritten/ drawn credits which were done by his sister and her friends at the home. Moving on he chats about locations, and how familiar many of them were as it's his hometown. He discusses both actors and non-actors, talks about a scene set up, and much more. Next, we get a twenty-four-minute making of- and this again is most worthy, as we get interviews with the director, cast and crew- moving from the origins of the project, onto its making, and completion. We have In the Words of Larry- an eighteen-minute on-screen interview with actor Larry Fessenden. There’s Outsider Art and Dementer- a forty-eight-minute zoom-based featurette featuring director Kinkle and fellow filmmakers Lucky McKee (May, The Woman) and Larry Fessenden (Habit, The Wendigo). There’s a selection of short early films from Kinkle- we have a compilation of VHS work from the early ’90s, and two more recent shorts- The Play Station and Make Up. Lastly, we have a trailer, and image gallery for the film.
Over on disc two, we have 2013’s Jug Face- which is best described as a blend of backwoods drama and tripped out organic/ fantasy elements, with moments of bloody ‘n’ brutal gore. The film is a lot more formal in its casting than Dementer - so as a result, the acting is much more even, though the pacing of the film is still a little uneven. The films lead character is Ada(Lauren Ashley Carter) a seventeen-year-old who lives with her parents in a backwoods trailer park, where they have a set of odd beliefs/ rituals- out in the woods near their settlement is a pit, where something barbaric and ancient dwells. Living in the trailer park is Dawai(Sean Bridges)- a bearded mid-aged man, who in drunken trances makes pot’s of people heads in the settlement, that are due to be sacrificed to the pit. One morning when visiting Dawai she finds a pottery head of herself- he’s not aware he’s made it due to his trance, so she hides it. Ada is also regularly having sex with her older muscular brother Jessaby(Daniel Manche), and is due to be joined with her bulky neighbour Bodey(Mathieu Whitman). As the film unfolds Ada tries to keep covered up both her affair with her brother and that a pot has been made of her head. As the film moves on her parents Loriss( Sean Young) and Sustin( Larry Fessenden) become suspicious, and members of their group are been brutally murdered due to her lies. The film is an uneven blend of quirky slightly lopsided drama, and earthy tripped-out imagery- taking in yellow hazed dreaminess/ jarring cuts & eyes rolling back in heads. With touches of off-kilter fantasy- we have the pots and all connected them, a smoked hazed male spirit he looks a spit for a skinner around twenties Jack Osborne, and moments of fairly gruelling gore- taking in throat slashings, limb ripping’s, and bloody attacks. I’ll certainly say Jug Face is an interesting addition to the American folk horror genre, and it has its effective/ rewarding moments- it’s just the pacing is a little uneven, meaning it’s an intriguing if not wholly successful film.
Moving onto this second disc, and we once again get a good selection of interesting extras. We get Into The Pit- this is a twenty-four-minute Zoom chat between Chad Crawford Kinkle in discussion with critic Jon Towlson. There’s Back Into The Woods- a thirty-three-minute Zoom chat between lead actress Lauren Ashley Carter in conversation with Celluloid Screams founder Robert Nevitt. And A Face Jug tour- which finds Chad Crawford Kinkle showing us his collection of face jugs that were made in rural America.
In finishing there’s no doubt Chad Crawford Kinkle is a distinctive and often creative filmmaker working within the American indie horror scene, and while both films here have their issues/ problems- both certainly are attempting to do something original and personal within the more backwoods/ rural horror side of things- which needs to praised and cherished. Roger Batty