27th Sep2021

‘Dementer & Jug Face’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)

by Phil Wheat


Stars: Katie Groshong, Brandy Edmiston, Larry Fessenden, Eller Hall, Scott Hodges, Stephanie Kinkle | Written and Directed by Chad Crawford Kinkle

Cults are a classic horror film troupe for good reason… In Dementer our protagonist Katie (Katie Groshong) runs away from a cult and takes a job caring for people with special needs in a centre. Our opening scene of running naked through the woods, with some surreal horror elements is suitably tense and peculiar.

Our “low on background checks” special needs centre plays out in the manner of a fly on the wall documentary and it works rather well. Katie gets involved with the patients drawing and colouring. She seems to care about the people, and she is clearly off to a good start. She befriends one of the patients, Stephanie, in particular/ Sadly, her past seems to be just behind her. She has tried to mystically protect herself, with charms and the like but between the flashbacks and the sinister forces chasing her, she cannot seem to get much distance between herself and her sinister history.

It is probably fair to say that mental illness and horror films generally have quite an unhealthy history as a pairing. People with mental illness are generally “maniacs” or violent and psychotic. In Dementer the link between those with mental illness and special needs is far more nuanced that I was expecting. Having said that, the wall between surreal horror and the mundane reality of mental illness remains intact once the credits role and the failure to marry these two disparate elements is the ultimate undoing of the film.

The acting, particularly for being such a cheaply made little film is actually very good. Katie Groshong and the other key characters are thoroughly decent and believable.

On the negative side, the “in your face” nature of the psychological horror that Katie is experiencing is full of loud music and seizure inducing flashes. Which I find more stressful than I do scary. I do however consider the film a noble failure, it has tried to do something different and most importantly it has not been disrespectful or exploitative of mental illness (something that is depressingly common among horror B movies).

The final line of Dementer tells us “you will not remember this” and it is not true. As I write this, I am already forgetting I saw this but at the same time I mostly enjoyed it while it lasted.

Special Features:

  • Director’s Commentary, a brand new audio commentary with writer-director Chad Crawford Kinkle
  • Cast & Crew Commentary, a brand new audio commentary with lead actress Katie Groshong, cinematographer Jeff Wedding and writer-director Chad Crawford Kinkle
  • Critic Commentary, a brand new audio commentary with film critic Chris Hallock and writer-director Chad Crawford Kinkle in conversation
  • The Making of Dementer, a brand new in-depth look behind the scenes of how and why the film was made, featuring interviews with writer-director Chad Crawford Kinkle, star Katie Groshong, and cinematographer Jeff Wedding
  • In the Words of Larry, actor Larry Fessenden discusses his role in the film and why he was so eager to take it
  • Outsider Art and Dementer, a brand new featurette with Chad Crawford Kinkle and fellow filmmakers Lucky McKee (May, The Woman) and Larry Fessenden (Habit, The Wendigo) in conversation as they explore the art of independent genre filmmaking
  • Short Films, a collection of early short films by director Chad Crawford Kinkle with optional commentary showing his development from high school through college and into professional feature film making
  • Trailer
  • Still gallery


Stars: Sean Bridgers, Lauren Ashley Carter, Kaitlin Cullum, Larry Fessenden, Sean Young | Written and Directed by Chad Crawford Kinkle

Ada, her family and a small isolated backwoods community worship a mysterious pit. The pit has the power to heal and protect all who honor it but at a deadly price…it demands an occasional sacrifice. The pit communicates through the local potter who, while in a trance, crafts ceramic jugs that carry the face of a person to be sacrificed to the entity that lives within it. Ada has a secret about the latest jug face that she’s determined to keep hidden but the pit demands a sacrifice and unleashes an evil onto the community until it gets who it really wants.

Modernciné, the studio behind the likes of Headspace, The Girl Next Door and The Woman, delve deep into the backwoods of America once again for Jug Face, a supernatural horror that turns traditional backwoods horror convention on its head in its tale of the (literal) evils of religion, which also reunites two of the stars of The Woman – Sean Bridgers and Lauren Ashley Carter. I say turns traditional backwoods horror convention on its head as, unlike many of its ilk, this film sees the yokels of this particular uber-religious community turn on each other NOT your usual city-slicking outsiders.

The epitomy of a slow-burner, Jug Face is not really a “scary movie”, in fact the film (beyond the “backwoods” tag) is hard to pigeon hole. Instead of all-out shocks and frights, writer/director Chad Crawford Kinkle goes for an unsettling atmosphere and makes spectacular use of the films setting, with a vibe similar to the likes of Children of the Corn and Deadly Blessing, yet run through the same Jack Ketchum-style vision that made The Girl Next Door and The Woman so effective. And much like those movies, there’s also plenty of brutality on show – although Kinkle knows exactly how much to so and how much to leave to the imagination, which is a rare thing these days!

Jug Face is one hell of a debut feature. With solid direction backed by a fantastic script and superb performances throughout, it’s sincerely hard to believe this is Kinkle’s first feature-length film (and is in fact only his second movie following the short Organ Grinder). Yes, the ghostly “shunned” and its appearance is a bit of a mis-step but that can no doubt be put down to the films small budget and the fact that the rest of the film, despite the supernatural elements of ‘the pit’, seem so real.

In Jug Face Kinkle has built a well-crafted universe, especially given that the film runs a mere 80 minutes – a true culmination of plotting acting and locale that have come together to make something truly special.

Special Features:

  • Staring into the Pit, writer-director Chad Crawford Kinkle in discussion with critic Jon Towlson
  • Back into the Woods, lead actor Lauren Ashley Carter in conversation with Celluloid Screams founder Robert Nevitt
  • A Face Jug tour, writer-director Chad Crawford Kinkle invites you into his home to check out his enviable face collection

The Dementer & Jug Face Limited Edition Blu-ray is released October 4th from Arrow Video.


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