Monday, October 8, 2012

Pinned: "Pin" (1988)

This is truly one of the most bizarre films to ever come out of Canada.

David Hewlett is Leon, and Cyndy Preston is Ursula. Leon and Ursula had a strange upbringing. Their mother is a neat freak of the highest order, and very controlling. Dad, a doctor played by genre fave Terry O'Quinn, is emotionally detached. He learns to raise his children by throwing his voice into a life size medical dummy Pin- named after the other famous puppet with the growing nose. Pin becomes a part of the children's lives, to the point where Leon is obsessed by him, and uses his own voice in place of his father's.

Mom and Dad are killed in a car accident (with Pin in the back seat), and Leon brings Pin home, eventually dressing him in his dead father's clothes and insisting on letting Ursula's dates meet him. Eventually, Pin begins telling Leon what to do...and who to kill.

This is not your silly '80's slasher fare, or even something along the lines of "Magic" or "Child's Play." This is a very creepy effort helped by great performances by Hewlett and Preston. Hewlett's Leon is not all facial tics and googly eyed movie mental illness, he turns in an outstanding performance as a sheltered adult whose life revolves around the medical dummy. His reading of his "poetry," where he imagines the main character raping the character's own sister, is chilling. Preston has an equally hard part, but plays it well. She loves her brother, but is torn between him and her new boyfriend. She is not as weird as Leon, but Ursula was raised this way and shows signs here and there of childhood trauma.

The script, however, tells us flat out that Leon is schizophrenic and is becoming Pin. This negates the opening scene where neighborhood children spy on Leon (or Pin?). The final shot is chilling, but if you pay attention, it is not surprising. A really scary musical score accentuates the sterile house the siblings live in.

Special effects are kept to a minimum, thank goodness, adding to the suspense. The director of this was the screenwriter on "The Amityville Horror," and he has a good eye.

"Pin" is one of those films that you probably see at the video store a lot, but pass up in favor of something else. Give it a chance, and those slasher films will pale by comparison. I highly recommend it. (* * * * *) out of five stars.