Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Pit

(Lew Lehman, 1981)
Any movie about a bullied autistic kid who enlists a cave full of man-eating "tra-la-logs" to exact revenge on his nemeses would seem to be tilting toward some kind of a positive social statement, especially when the kid is also actively interested in sex. It's even possible that the extreme mildness of this particular case of autism is a positive reaction against cinematic norms rather than a token of incomprehension. But the kid's monstrousness is so convincingly conveyed by both the director and the brat who plays him that by the time he pushes the old lady's wheelchair into the crevice it looks more like a Struwwelpeter-style middle finger to the whole notion of positive social statements. In this context, the pubescent misanthropy is startling and holds your attention up to a point, but the plot pushes all the carnage so far to the back end that one starts to wonder whether this was intended as a horror film at all. And so, in a transparently belated attempt to correct this miscalculation, the producers preview one death scene in its lengthy entirety before the opening credits, then paste on ten minutes of absurdly gratuitous tra-la-log rampage at the swimmin' hole in the third act. Throw in the babysitter's ghost and one of the cheapest end gags of all time, and you've got one weird movie.

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