A stronger-than-average psycho thriller from Canada about a
malevolent medical dummy. Itís not all good, marred by its scant budget
and distracting 1980s conventions, but it works.
This very low budget film was released in 1988. Based
on a 1981 novel
by Andrew Neiderman, it remains the only theatrical feature directed by
Sandor Stern, whose directorial credits are otherwise confined to
TV--although he did script the original AMITYVILLE HORROR. PIN, released
in the U.S. by New World Pictures, wasnít especially successful in its
day, but has acquired a substantial cult following.
Leon and Ursula are the seemingly normal children of a
wealthy doctor. The latter uses ventriloquism to communicate with the
kids through a life-size medical doll named Pin. Unfortunately Leon
takes his fatherís ventriloquism a bit too literally, believing Pin is
actually alive. Ursula goes along with Leonís delusion, even though she
finds it creepy.
During the kidsí teenage years their mother and father
are killed in a car accident. Leon takes Pin back to their house, where
he and Ursula are fated to live by themselves--after, that is, Leon
kills their intrusive aunt!
It would seem that now Leon is free to indulge his
unnatural lusts for his sister. But Ursula falls in love with a nice guy
named Stan, meaning another murder is imminent. Like the first, this
killing is carried out in the family home under the instructions of Pin.
When Ursula discovers her boyfriend is (seemingly) dead sheís
understandably upset, and sees to it that Leon pays his crime in harsh
but entirely appropriate fashion.
I donít agree with all the choices made by PINíS
writer-director Sandor Stern, but for the most part he does a fine job
with the material. He directs with a sure and unobtrusive hand, without
excess camera movement or cutting, and his script delineates its
protagonistís insanity in clear and unobtrusive fashion. The
ventriloquism angle wasnít in the novel but is a welcome addition,
clarifying Pinís true nature without a lot of superfluous exposition.
Speaking of the inanimate Pin, heís a marvelous creation with hypnotic
blue eyes; Pin could very easily have ended up looking silly, but comes
off as creepy and appropriately menacing, just as the filmmakers
The film, unfortunately, fails to rise above its ultra
low budget. Note the chintzy lighting, amateurish performances, tacky
score and cop-out ending that forsakes the unflinching darkness of
Andrew Neidermanís novel in favor of a wholly inappropriate fade-out
that promotes a false sense of optimism (among other things, it posits
that a character who was supposed to be dead somehow survives). All
those things are unfortunate constants in 1980s budget-lite filmmaking,
and prevent PIN from reaching its full potential.
Lance Entertainment M-D
Director: Sandor Stern
Producer: Rene Malo
Screenplay: Sandor Stern
(Based on a novel by Andrew Neiderman)
Cinematography: Guy Defaux
Editing: Patrick Dodd
Cast: David Hewlett, Cyndy Preston, John Ferguson, Terry OíQuinn,
Bronwen Mantel, Helene udy, Patricia Collins, Steven Bednarski, Katie
Shingler, Jacob Tierney, Michelle Anderson, Jonathan Banks