Although the final sacrifice leaves a very bad taste in the mouth, "Jug Face" is quite an impressively acted and directed (consider the shoestring available) indie feature. It leaves this lasting impression after the credits role and that is quite a compliment. The leads are exceptional.
Lauren Ashley Carter could be an actress to watch. Those eyes are amazing, and her meek, kind of "walking in discomfort and on egg shells" performance makes sense for the character considering the family she is stuck with. She is Ada, the daughter of a moonshiner (Larry Fessenden, given a juicy part to sink his teeth into, as does Sean Young as Ada's cruel and unsympathetic mother) who serves as the backwoods community leader of a pact of worshipers beholden to a pit which seems to be home to a type of deity that requires human sacrifices (blood from the slit throats of those chosen by it through the vision given to a potter, in a trance while his hands fashion the face of one of the community upon a jug) to satisfy it. The pit seems to offer health to its followers in return. Not much else as the community live in ramshackle homes, eating whatever they can find, using the funds from moonshine (sold to a convenient store owner who buys the brew in a back alley) to supplement what other needs might be required. Fessenden is good for these roles because he looks the part of a backwoods naturalist with little teeth, unclean and haggard appearance. He's not altogether a creep, but the willingness of all the community to just offer their own to a pit leaves quite an unsettling feeling while watching them. And the film unflinchingly shows heads over a log stump with the cutting blade pressed against throat, the slash and jugular gag, and the fleshy blood spewing into the pit as the community move on past what they've done. It is disturbing to see them all eventually accepting what has happened, even as sons and daughters are taken. Ada has been in incestuous relations with her brother (Daniel Manche), because, let's face it, there aren't a lot of pleasant suitors in this community. She learns she's pregnant with his child, also noticing that the next jug face demanded by the pit is her. Throwing off the jug to save herself (but her child more), the pit god arises to take from the community until it is satiated
even worse is that Ada is cursed to see through the god's eyes and those it kills. She seizures and her eyes go white, feeling their agony while it kills those she knows.
Horrible situation all the way around. Will she relent and face up to her destiny? Running doesn't work nor does hiding her secret
the pit will get what it desires. Good casting besides the chief roles has the understated Sean Bridges as Dawai, the potter who must bear the burden of his handiwork on the clay ensuring that someone will die regardless of if his knowledge or not. The pit guides his hands, and after the jug hardens in a makeshift stove, Dawai sees who will die staring right at him. The film spends a majority of its time right in the woods where the community lives, just retreating to the outside world when Fessenden needs to sell his moonshine. Sean Young is quite a wretch as the miserable mom who is preoccupied with her daughter's virginity and hymen. When she cuts on her daughter's knuckles to find out who took her virginity, it is quite harsh and hard to watch. In the community, the people operate negotiate marriages between their children, as Ada learns she's betrothed to another family's son. That son is "chosen" after Ada loses the jug with her face, which just continues the spiral out of control. The god is never seen, and the attacks are hazed by the askew visions Ada is anguished to endure. Brief glimpses of ripped apart carcasses, guts, and meaty blood are essentially what is left by the pit god once it's done with those victims chosen. Ada tries to get away, save her baby, and escape a fate predestined without her approval. To appease the pit deity seems to be their only reason for existing
that hopeless, sinking feeling is prevalent. Ultimately, all those lives lost because Ada isn't keen on giving up hers casts a tragic, lingeringly sad pall over the whole movie: it all seems so unfair.