As children, Leon (David Hewlett) and his sister Ursula (Cynthia Preston) live with their demanding, and unusual, parents. Their mother is obsessive about cleanliness, and their father expects only the best behaviour from both children. Their father is a doctor and has a life size human model that the kids have called Pin. Using ventriloquism, the father talks to the kids as Pin. This causes Leon to believe that Pin is real, and when their parents are killed in a car accident, Leon takes the opportunity to bring Pin home as his new friend.
Never in all my years have a watched a film that is this strange and creepy. Terry O’Quinn has one of the most uncomfortable roles as the father, Dr. Linden. His parenting style is completely abnormal. He uses the doll, Pin, to speak to his children about how they should behave, what they should do with their lives, and the all important sex talk. This causes Leon to believe that Pin is real. Eventually, Leon begins using the same ventriloquism trick Dr. Linden uses to have conversations with Pin. When his parents are killed in an accident, Leon brings Pin home, forcing his sister to treat Pin like a member of the family. Ursula, his sister, understands that Pin is not real, but allows Leon to continue in his belief because she knows that he is sick, and she wants to try and help him. As Leon becomes more unstable, and Ursula finds herself a boyfriend, Pin seems to be taking Leon over and forcing him to try and control Ursula’s life.
It’s not just Pin that gives viewers the creeps, it’s also the very awkward relationship that Leon and Ursula have with their father, and each other. When Ursula is only 15, she gets pregnant and her father performs the abortion. Leon seems to be strangely in love with Ursula and is unable to let her grow up. Once their parents pass away, Leon begins building a life where his sister seems to be his wife. Watching everything makes you feel very uncomfortable. David Hewlett and Cynthia Preston deliver amazing performances, playing the strange family relationship just creepy enough without going overboard. If a scene doesn’t involve them acting odd with each other, it usually features Pin. With see through skin, since it is a teaching aid, Pin is almost impossible to look at. I have friends that would cringe in fear at the mere thought of a mannequin like Pin.
It’s fascinating to watch Leon become more unstable as the film moves along, but it’s not really hard to see where everything is going. A couple of surprise twists at the end keep things fresh, but it’s really the strange relationships in the film that keep things going. Whether it’s the slightly too strong brother/sister bond, the relationship with their father, or the way that Leon thinks of, and treats, Pin. This is one of the best Canadian horror films around, just for the way it will make your skin crawl.
Under the marquee – Will