15th Nov2013

‘Pin’ Review (Arrowdrome)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: David Hewlett, Cynthia Preston, Terry O’Quinn, John Pyper-Ferguson | Written and Directed by Sandor Stern


When Alfred Hitchcock made Psycho he had a lot to answer for, creating a character in Norman Bates that is so easy to replicate, though hard to perfect.  Pin is a film that bears similarities to Hitchcock’s masterpiece and has a character that could be said to be just as twisted as Norman.

Ursula and Leon are the children of a doctor who, to communicate issues to his children uses a medical mannequin know as Pin to teach them about health and body issues.  As the children grow up Ursula understands that Pin is not real, but her father uses ventriloquism to bring the doll alive, but Leon clings on to the belief that Pin is his best friend.  When their parents die in a car accident Leon moves Pin into the family home and grows closer to the doll, while Ursula watches on with worry.  When Ursula has a new boyfriend who “Pin” sees as a threat though, things may take an even darker turn.

Pin is a movie that didn’t do that well in the eighties and in ways I can see why, it’s more of a psychological thriller than the big slasher films that were so strong at the time.  I’d argue though that with time and a change in styles of horror it’s now much more effective.  There aren’t that many deaths in the movie because the most important element is Pin itself and the ambiguity between realism and the supernatural.  There are small hints that Pin may in fact be something more than just a dummy, but for the most part it’s fairly obvious to the viewer and to the other characters that it’s Leon that has the problem.

To make a film like this work the actors have to be up to the role and David Hewlett as Leon and Cynthia Preston as Ursula are certainly up to the job.  Ursula although somewhat delusional is a character you do pity, she knows her brother has issues but her protectiveness over him holds her back from actually taking the action needed to get her brother professional help.  Leon though is the main character and his emotional and mental connection to Pin is one of the creepiest since Norman Bates and his mother.  It’s arguable that Leon’s problems were down to his parent’s coldness towards their children, especially the father played by Terry O’Quinn.  The relationship between Leon and Pin is also interesting because of the control the mannequin has over him, and this control of course is from Leon’s mind itself.  David Hewlett gives a powerful performance as Leon, who in the end is a tragic character, although the real victim of his actions is his sister.

Pin deserves its reputation as a cult classic and fits that name well, because it is an acquired taste.  It’s a slow burner that never really pushes into true horror, but with little hints at the supernatural and the fiendishly dark undertones to the plot is obviously horrific in tone.  Maybe the one thing that truly makes it a horror film though is Pin himself, and of course the ending which is tragic, creepy and will stay in your memory for a while after you’ve finished watching.

Pin is available on DVD now from Arrow’s Arrowdrome imprint.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek.com

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