BBFC Classification: 15
Director: Sandor Stern
Starring: David Hewlett, Cynthia Preston, Terry O’Quinn, John Ferguson
Not a film that immediately springs to mind when discussing all things 1980s but 1988′s Pin is something of a forgotten gem that really should be more widely regarded. Tapping into the same kind of psychological terror that made films like Psycho so memorable, Pin is a film about the mental breakdown of a young man who has grown up with a damaged sense of what love and relationships mean and uses a medical display dummy named Pin to project his alter-ego.
The Linden’s are a wealthy family spearheaded by the firm-but-fair Dr. Linden (Terry O’Quinn – The Stepfather) and his hygiene-obsessed wife (Bronwen Mantel – Gothika). Dr. Linden uses his anatomically-correct skinless medical dummy named Pin to explain the facts of life to his children Leon and Ursula via ventriloquism, but as the children grow older Ursula (Cynthia Preston – Carrie) knows it’s all a trick and forgets about Pin but Leon (David Hewlett – Scanners II: The New Order) still believes that the dummy really speaks to him.
After both the Linden parents are killed in a car crash Leon and Ursula inherit the family fortune and try to continue their lives, but while Ursula gets a job, a boyfriend and does all the things a normal teenage girl should do, Leon withdraws into himself and moves Pin into the family home, dressing him in his father’s clothes and treating him as a member of the family, until Ursula introduces her boyfriend Stan (John Ferguson – Unforgiven) into the household and Pin takes exception…
A film full of ideas and intentions that could have gone very wrong, director Sandor Stern (Amityville: The Evil Escapes) keeps a tight rein on things and the film doesn’t suffer for holding back on the blood and violence, instead focusing on how the children became the adults they did. Cynthia Preston is the perfect ’80′s party girl and plays Ursula as somebody who wants to break free of her parents restraints and live life a little, and her on-screen chemistry with David Hewlett is very believable, although it is quite hard to tell whether Hewlett is being intentionally withdrawn or is just wooden.
Nevertheless, his presence is felt all the way through the film to the point where you feel bad for his ultimate plight despite the things he does. And that’s something that set Pin apart from the endless slasher sequels that were flooding the market at the time of its original release because the film does make you care for the characters and tell an original story. The themes of sex, love and relationships and how they can be interpreted lay at the core of the film and it never crosses the line into bad taste, although some of Leon’s poetry suggests his feelings for his sister may run deeper than just sibling love.
There is a remake rumoured to be in production and hopefully it’ll stay true to this understated and very effective chiller without having to resort to titillation as, like with Psycho, there is a lot of suggestive subtext that doesn’t really need to be thrown in your face. As for this version, the set design looks a little made-for-TV in places and the ambiguity the makers try to throw in with regards to whether Pin is responsible for certain deeds or not is a little clumsy but overall Pin is a creepy film that plays it straight and will stay with you after the final credits have rolled.
Special Features: Theatrical trailer and collector’s booklet with notes by Lee Gambin.
UK Release Date: 28th October 2013