Pit, The | Varied Celluloid

Pit, The

Posted by Josh Samford On September - 24 - 2008
Originally Written by Prof. Aglaophotis


The Plot: Jaime is a very odd boy in his suburban neighborhood; seeing that he’s a twelve year old who has an obsession with pornography and female bodies in general and his only friend is Teddy his home-made teddy bear, he is easily estranged by everyone. His parents have caught on to this and feel that because he is reaching puberty he should start being mature and make more friends, which is why they hired young psychology student Sandy to look after him and be his friend while the parents are on a business trip. Also, Jaime knows about something that everyone else in the town doesn’t, something buried in the woods, hiding a big secret of sinister proportions: a large pit leading to an underground cave that houses four bright eyed creatures that have nothing to do but sleep and look up at Jaime whenever he visits them. As Jaime attempts to express his feelings for Sandy in his own oddball ways, Teddy guides him in taking care of the monsters in the pit and wooing Sandy, but once nothing goes Jaime’s way on either option, Teddy reminds Jaime about all of the people in town that hate him after finding out what the monsters like to eat and after running out of money to steal in order to buy the monsters meat. It’s then that Jaime literally puts the two factors together, but will his new little hobby of feeding his new pets ever get out of hand?




The Review
Once in awhile, you end up watching films that you never heard of that you never knew existed until you have seen them and once you do see them, they really make you stop and wonder what exactly you just saw. It’s a typically ambivalent feeling I get after watching an often mentioned rare cult film and it usually takes me awhile to get over it, depending on the concept. For The Pit, the feeling lasted with me long after the movie was done. The concept drew me in for the most part, but the way the concept and story is directed and developed… it was nowhere near bad, but it boggled my mind for a month. I couldn’t hate it, nor could I hold it in the highest of regards; that feeling has been gnawing on me since and I couldn’t figure it out! A month has past now and while writing this review I found out the answer: my expectations were too high. I was expecting a creepy old school horror movie and I ended up finding a goofy black comedy instead! It almost comes off as a character study of a disturbed little boy as it tries to pay attention to his disorder, but as it did, it often lost me in the process and when it told a story that was all about the monsters that the boy fed, it didn’t seem to end.

The film was shot in very good lucidity, ensuring that every actor on screen was visible, though the cinematography was a little hum drum as there weren’t too many spectacular shots to speak of except for maybe two notable scenes where we actually see a little blood and gore as well as some choker close-ups of Jamie watching the creatures in his atrium. The lighting was also very good, but almost… too good. By this I mean that it made sure nothing/no one was obscured on screen, but this would include the monsters as well; we saw just a little too much of them. The musical score, though somewhat fitting for the use of a demented kid for a main character, was just a little too well orchestrated for it to fit. Not that it was bad, hardly, it just didn’t emit any real fearful moments, playing off of strenuous and horrifying situations as if it were either shocking, trying to be dramatic or playful. The only moments that the violins and trombones really matched any terror was whenever Jaime would stalk around the women; keeping his eyes on whatever young lady was around him. The dialogue is on an average scale for me as the lines were spoken in believable ways, but in such a way that you wanted to correct whoever was talking. For instance, throughout the movie, Jaime calls the monsters that are presumably identified as troglodytes ‘trall-logs’. Now as believable as this is for a kid not being able to memorize the appropriate name for subterranean man-eaters, I wanted to shout the correct word at the screen. The acting was equal with the dialogue as characters either stay for awhile with an average level of charisma or they come and go before you know it. Sammy Snyders did a great job of being a weird, young, psychological outcast who has high hopes of having a girlfriend who easily gets peeved and jealous. Many other characters from supporters to extras ran from semi-believable to lousy (more notably, any cop in the movie on the lousy part…would they really want to keep away the reason why people were found torn to shreds from the town?).

It’s almost like the director had an idea of how to utilize the world and vocabulary of a goofy/freaky twelve year old and adhered it to the film in such a way that plays on everything involving the main character as innocent, silly and intriguing, yet shallow. All he needed to do to complete this assumption was to make the down to Earth on location spots bizarrely shaped, oversized and manipulated sets that would overwhelm the child characters and the movie would probably be held in a higher artistic regard. Despite this seemingly ‘innocent’ factor however, there are one or two strong moments in The Pit that make you realize that there is some harshness amidst the innocence. This is mostly due to our main character’s perversion for naked women that keeps you on the edge of tension as he goes to great lengths just to see some nipples. The best example of this is when he practically dehumanizes the town librarian by getting her to take her top off in front the window of her living room…damn, was that cruel. The pace of the movie itself is slow as Sandra tries putting the pieces of the Jaime’s problems together to possibly find an origin to it all and Jaime just does whatever he wants too. Unfortunately, we only get a hint of how Jaime’s problems started and as disturbing as they are, they’re just left dangling around. I will say this though; the movie does a good job of starting events in different patterns. I don’t say this so much out of editing as jump cuts are abound from scene to scene and flashbacks run unnoticed, but I say this out of the sequence of events in the film as they just open up and unravel and the movie takes off from that point. Due to the cut-down content, it’s hard to accept, but they had a seemingly anti-linear plot device in mind, so that counts. The editing did show a bit of problems here or there though, as the opening of the movie starts out with a scene that occurs later in the movie (godammit).

As I stated earlier, the movie doesn’t take on much of a horrific feel to the content; the fact that our main character bumps the people he doesn’t like off by finding different ways to drop them into a pit full of man eating monsters is played off in an atmosphere of dark humor instead of terror, which may not seem that big of a deal, sure, but the movie starts out this process by killing two of the most stereotyped ‘innocent’ characters in a horror movie that usually live at the end of main media horror films and as an avid horror movie fan, it’s hard for me to imagine why that is not expressed in a more terrifying light seeing that the movie all ready breaks such a heavily established stereotype. As an example of this dark humor, one out of the five people we first see get dumped into the pit get silent once they land in the pit; all you hear from the pit is the sound of the troglodytes roaring away at who has just dropped in, letting the audience assume that they are having an off screen flesh-feast. It’s hard to imply that every victim conveniently broke their neck or got knocked out once they dropped in (with the exception of one fainted victim).

There are also some facts that stand out in The Pit that really can’t be overlooked and dare to be scrutinized by the viewer. For example, when Jaime nabs the old, hateful, crippled, blind lady that hates him, he introduces himself to her and takes her for a non-consensual, bumpy stroll with her sitting in the wheel chair hollering and yelling for him to stop, all the way from the suburbs to the forest, a mile trip in broad daylight… and no one takes notice of this?? Riiiight. Another factor to this is when he dumps the school bully into the pit at night during a sudden costume party and the bully brought his girlfriend along. While she stays and watches over the bully getting closer to the pit, Jaime, who is dressed up as a ghost, creeps up behind the bully and pushes him in; a white cloaked figure against deep green foliage, sneaking behind a white shirt wearing pirate, all pretty well lit by dense moonlight and the girlfriend didn’t take notice of it before the bully got dumped. Riiiight.

Another problem is that of the more technical standard. First off, the pit itself is huge; it’s rectangular shaped in a small clearing, about eight by four feet, and it leads directly into hollow ground with no walls leading downward, leading into a big cave perhaps a quarter more the size of the pit’s opening for the four troglodytes to roam around in it. The problems with these factors run in the sense that anyone running towards the clearing could hardly miss a big black patch of emptiness smack dab in between fallen yellow autumn leaves and although the wall-less opening of the pit emits a sense of immediate danger as there is nothing to hold onto during your fall, the fact that the ground above the hollow cave is supported by practically nothing but conglomerate rock is dismaying and just having a big hole to look into a big subterranean cave about twelve feet down, revealing a cluster of stumpy hairy creatures isn’t as scary as looking down into a wide (five-by-five foot), sunken-in, square shaped pit that partially obscures the creatures below during the day, only revealing eight beady little yellow eyes looking up at you during the night, with at least six feet of dirt walls leading straight down into a six foot high cave. That would have been much creepier to see (though it would eliminate the atrium analogy in the movie). Still, it’s someone else’s movie; who am I to impose my own mental images upon what’s already been carved into the celluloid?

The Conclusion
Overall, The Pit is a mixed bag; it’s got a great premise that comes out as the prefect image of what a children’s film produced by Roger Corman would be like and just about anyone who has ever made a movie with the word Don’t in the title. Simultaneously, it’s hard to call it a horror film despite its premise, psychological factor, use of later clichéd kills (betcha’ that girl isn’t gonna take her top off before she gets nabbed), and practically minimal amount of blood and/or gore. It’s hard to recommend as the amassed scenes feel PG-13 based and would be suited for any adolescents getting early interests in the odd side of cult cinema (so long as they are either allowed to watch the movie or if they can ever find it) I was lucky to stumble upon a DVD release from Anchor Bay containing some international still-shots and posters, but why this isn’t making a better appearance here on the review is because the DVD… sadly, comes coupled with another movie on the other side of the disc, that really shouldn’t be there (trust me, it’s NOT a movie worth mentioning). Between the acting, music and plot, The Pit will come off more as a bizarre comical tale of misogyny and (off-screen) murders that is bound to make you chuckle in occasional disbelief rather than cringe at the content, but regardless of such results, The Pit just might pull you in.



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