Day: June 9, 2015
the pit wants what it wants
Recommended indie horror film: Jug Face, 2013, which deviates from the usual maniac-torturing-people-in-a-cabin formula to explore themes of rural patriarchy, fatalism, and the meaning of community bonds. Elements of Shirley Jackson's lottery, Lovecraft's color out of space, and Dickey's deliverance can be found here but it's an original work.
Wisdom in this unnamed Appalachian enclave is dispensed by The Pit, an actual, literal hole in the ground, which can either heal or kill you. As explained by the moonshine-seller who is the town's unofficial mayor (played by Larry Fessenden), "The Pit wants what it wants." It has been healing the villagers since the days of "the pox" and they take its dictates seriously. Formally it communicates its wishes to a local potter who makes a ceramic "jug face" likeness of a person in the community who will be bloodily sacrificed. Villagers submit reluctantly but willingly. Lest we think the mayor and the potter are cooking all this up themselves, we see several examples where protocols aren't followed and The Pit takes matters into its own hands, or tentacles (this is left to our imagination) -- it butchers several people to communicate its displeasure. The film centers on the efforts of a determined young woman to flee The Pit and its servitors, after receiving some mixed signals about whether she's supposed to be breeding or dying to sustain the community.
Reviews of the film have mostly discussed the lead actress (who is excellent) and the mood of tension in this backwoods pressure cooker. Most interesting, though, is The Pit as a metaphor of the yawning hole of chaos that this town, and by logical extension, the rest of the world relies on as an organizing structure. Why did we invade Iraq when agents provocateurs funded by another country launched a domestic attack? The Pit wanted it. Why did Obama promise to close Guantanamo and then renege? Ask The Pit. Who decided, in the thick of congressional discussion of a bad trade bill, to focus the attention of the country on a popular sports figure's gender change? A capital idea from The Pit. Etcetera. Reptilians have been adduced as an explanation for all the incomprehensible evil things that happen but they've got nothing on The Pit.