The Pit is an underseen Canadian horror, set in Wisconsin, which might as well be Canada, what with their humility, funny accents, affinity for beer, ample forests and lousy weather.
The film’s creeping sexual coming-of-age elements, an unintended byproduct of casting a 12-year old boy rather than a 9-year old as the screenwriter intended, definitely breathes life into this 1981 feature and will make it well worth your time (a kid-centric edgy movie like this would never be made today, given the dominance of tepid supernaturals).
Neat film, but The Pit is a terrible title. It’s alternate, Teddy, is equally bad and slightly misleading. While young Jamie is a bullied youngster whose sole companion is a stuffed (and at times sentient) bear, this conceit is abandoned midway and could be interpreted as just another figment of the kid’s imagination.
When it comes to looking after Jamie, it’s been a babysitter revolving door. He’s definitely a handful, with his dead-eyed demeanor, kidnapping schemes and his clingy burgeoning sexuality. Psych grad student Sandra is up for the challenge though, even if he tests her limits by spying on her while she sleeps and skulking into the bathroom while she’s showering.
Jamie’s obsessed with a pit out in the middle of the woods, The Pit in question. It’s inhabited by trolls, “Tra-la-logs” as he puts it, a “troglodyte” solecism. The boy takes it upon himself to feed the furry creatures, procuring meat from the local butcher and dumping it into the hollow.
Soon, they’re not satisfied and need live prey. And Jamie is all too happy to oblige.
Where are his parents you ask?
Jamie’s in dire need of discipline, a good ol’ fashioned ass-whoopin’. The Pit’s finished product is undisciplined as well. The psycho-sexual elements are eerie and convincing, but by the time we’re introduced to the trolls, some of the tension and claustrophobia is lost (especially when a skeptical Sandra becomes a believer). Still, the first two-thirds make for a really tight, inspired little horror.
According to our pals over at Daily Dead, Kino Lorber are releasing this oddity on Blu-ray.
*** (out of 5)
[CHECK OUT OUR PODCAST DISCUSSION OF THE PIT!]