Jug Face (2013)
By: Devon B. on January 22, 2015 | Comments
Jinga Films | All Regions, NTSC | 2.0:1 (16:9 enhanced) | French DD 5.1 | 74 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Thomas Szczepanski
Stars: Guillaume Beylard, Zuriel De Peslouan, Sarah Lucide, Jellali Mouina
Writers: François Gaillard, Thomas Szczepanski
Country: France
I've been trying to think of stupider names for a monster movie than Jug Face. I suppose Horror Hotline…Big Head Monster is stupider, but that should be given some leeway because of the language barrier, and the name might be totally kickass in Cantonese. The only title I could think of that was anywhere near as bad was Pumpkinhead, but I think Jug Face is the clear loser. The creature in the movie looks like a walking tree root system, so obviously the movie should've been called Root Monster.

Root Monster is set in a backwoods community where the locals worship a pit. A teenager that's been a bit of a root monster herself finds out she's pregnant, then she learns she's betrothed to some guy who's not even the dude who knocked her up. To make matters worse she finds a jug that bears her likeness, a jug face (hence the film's original and inferior title). This signals she's to be sacrificed to the pit, which seems like an extreme form of birth control to me, but she hides the jug. Unfortunately for her the pit's powers aren't just local superstition and bad things begin happening.

Root Monster was written and directed by Chad Crawford Kinkle, and one look at his name explains how he might have thought Jug Face wasn't a ridiculous thing to call his movie. Aside from his naming fiasco, he's made a movie that is leagues, just leagues, better than most movies of Root Monster's scale. Despite a low budget the production is slick, and the acting is mostly solid. I never thought I'd see the day when Sean Young co-starred in a movie with Larry Fessenden, but Kinkle has made it so. Young's hick accent can be a little dodgy at times, but she's otherwise well suited to play a nutter, and almost everyone else in the cast does a good job.

Robert Kurtzman provides a bit of grue, including one moment that's sure to enrage Fred Nile, but this isn't really one for people hoping for creature carnage. Or hoping for much of a creature for that matter, as the monster's only glimpsed in flashes. This isn't necessarily a death knell for a creature feature for me, Fessenden's own Wendigo overcame its mostly missing monster, but normally I prefer to see the beastie, and I think Root Monster would've benefitted from more of the monster. Instead of the creature there's a spirit that likes to engage in lame ethereal chit-chat, which is one of Root Monster's faults. With a bit more money Kinkle might've been able to show the viewer more events rather than have boring expositional exchanges. I don't care that it's a haunted conversation, I was bored, and the talking removed any menace the spirits might've possessed. I've made that seem like a bigger deal than it is because it accounts for very little of the film's runtime, but that doesn't change the fact that I didn't the gabbing ghostie.

Root Monster is an arty film, but it's nice and short which prevents it from getting too bogged down in its own pretensions. While technically a monster movie, it's more likely to appeal to fans of twisted and trippy arthouse horror.
The Disc
Root Monster has a bit of judder, macro blocking and edge enhancement, but the print is otherwise sharp and clean. The audio is also nice and clear. It's not an overly aggressive surround mix, but the track does what it needs to do. The extras are a making of, Kinkle's Organ Grinder short, and the trailer. The making of runs nearly 30 minutes and covers the project's origins and casting, outlines how Kinkle got the directing job, and allows monster fans an unobstructed look at the root monster itself. Organ Grinder is a kinky tale of a sexorcist that features rape, sex, and gore, so it's another one to show Fred Nile.
The Verdict

Root Monster is a moody horror movie, but even at 81 minutes it was a bit too slow for me. There's no denying it's an impressive effort, though, and people less focused on the actual monster in a monster movie should really dig it.

Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
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