Pin (1988, Stern)

IMDB Summary: A doctor has a lifelike, anatomically-correct medical dummy, with muscles and organs visible through its clear skin, named Pin (after Pinocchio). Via ventriloquism, Pin explains bodily functions in a way kids can relate to. When the over-strict doctor and his wife are killed in a car crash, his son (Leon) transfers his alter-ego into Pin, whom he always believed was alive. He starts using Pin as an excuse to over-protect his sister (Ursula) from admirers and deflect unwanted intrusions, even to the extent of committing murder.

Pin is a film that will distance some and entrance others. It is a hidden gem not only of the horror genre, but of any genre. In fact, it is more psychological drama than anything else. It will be cast off by some as being silly, but Pin is one of the more intense and layered character studies that exist. Luckily, it has a solid cult status and has managed to gain the respect of most that see it. It features a unique plot based on a novel by Andrew Neiderman and is grounded in two superb lead performances by David Hewlett and Cynthia Preston as Leon and Ursula. The film is not scary but it is deeply unsettling. Each scene is about painting a portrait of a troubled paranoid schizophrenic and the sister who has adapted to living with him. The last scene, which will forever haunt me, conveys the sense of remaining mystery that exists to the story.

This is a film that could have been terrible every step of the way; it asks a lot of its audience to buy a story this outlandish. The performances could have easily stripped away any credibility within the script. Instead, this is a film that should not have worked but does in every way. Hewlett is a revelation in an early role, performed whole-heartedly and thoughtfully. Certainly one of the most underrated performances in film. It also has a female protagonist that manages to be extremely sympathetic, intelligent and likable. Seeing Ursula navigate through the rocky terrain of her relationship with Leon is fully engrossing. Terry O’Quinn as Dr. Linden is excellent as a man who was never meant to be a father and whose methods of connecting with his children are unorthodox.

I implore you to seek this out. It is on Instant Netflix. To say this is one of my new favorite films is a vast understatement. If you are looking for scares, seek something else out. If you want a disturbing character study that fully and sincerely draws you into its weird, outlandish and creepy world, see this film. I’d love to write extensively about this one day as this is a very short summary of initial thoughts.


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