Saturday, October 9, 2010


Where to begin? So this stern physician raises his children, a boy and a girl, with very exacting standards. He also has a medical dummy named Pin, and he likes to throw his voice and make his kids think Pin is talking, but insists that the kids can't talk to Pin unless he's around. Of course, the father himself seems to like to talk to Pin when no one else is around, which is disconcerting. One day the boy sees a nurse having a sexual encounter with the unmoving Pin, so that pretty much fucks up sex for him for ever, and he grows up obsessed with and overprotective of his sister. After the parents die in a car crash, the boy becomes attached to Pin, moving him into their house, talking to him, dressing him in the father's clothes. And then... well, I could keep going, but I have to draw the line somewhere.

Pin has a few too many problems for me to recommend it wholeheartedly: some awkward filmmaking, dialogue that's a little too on-the-nose, and a slow second half that loses a lot of the tension built during the eerie setup. Still, there's a certain something here to admire, and if it's ultimately not successful, it's the real deal in terms of its ambitions of being a deeply unsettling psychological thriller. Pin himself is a memorable creation. He's not overtly creepy in his design, even though he's a see-through medical dummy, but his unchanging demeanor coupled with his disembodied voice (always, of course, being provided by the father or the son) is truly unnerving.

What I most admired, though, was the ambiguity. There's never a clear answer, even in the end, on what's going on. The obvious implication is that Pin is somehow alive, but this is only hinted at and never confirmed. He never moves, the filmmakers don't have him "come alive" during the climax. And every time it seems like its going in that direction, there's always (or, almost always) a logical explanation for why Pin might appear to be alive. Could it just be that the father was insane and somehow passed the insanity to his son? The film never says definitively, and that lends it some power.

Unfortunately, right around the time Pin should be turning the screws a little tighter on the audience, it slows down to a crawl and becomes more of a drama about the brother and the sister. The climax finally returns to full fledged horror, but there's a bit of a too little, too late feeling to it. The early scenes of the film were just too effectively creepy to allow for such a bland final act. Still, there is something about the movie that gets under your skin, at least in places, and the final shot strikes just the right note.

Grade: B-

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