Pin (1988)

Pin is a taut, psychologically challenging movie that centers around a family, the heads of which are a strict disciplinarian and an obsessive compulsive, respectively. The Father is a Doctor who uses his ventriloquism skills to personify an anatomically-correct, life-sized medical dummy; Pin (short for Pinocchio), in an effort to teach his children important life lessons. Through a series of bizarre encounters with the Doctor and his doll, the children learn all about the birds and the bees and each puts this knowledge to use in very different ways. When they reach High School age, Ursula begins to dabble with promiscuity but her brother Leon, believing that Pin is very real, becomes something of a recluse who thinks sexual urges are bad. When their parents die in a car crash in which Pin is the only ‘survivor’, Leon adopts Pin into the family home, even going as far as to make him look more life-like. He becomes obsessed with the dummy and increasingly mentally unstable, going so far as to insist on evening meals with Pin sitting at the table with them. When bad things start to happen to anyone that might come between Leon and Ursula, could it be that Pin is more alive than he appears to be?

Pin is a prime example of a film whose reputation has become increasingly unwarranted over time. It’s billed as one of the most disturbing and little-seen films of the 80’s but when viewed today, is actually pretty tame. There are one or two stand-out scenes that might stay with the viewer after the credits roll but really, it’s a tale of a mentally unhinged young man and his best friend, who just so happens to be made of plastic. You might also be able to argue that Pin is a clear descendant of Hitchcock’s Psycho but the comparison between the films seems a little redundant and I’m more inclined to look upon this as something of an homage.

Very little music is used throughout, but the films subtle score fits each scene perfectly, helping to create a very palpable tension. The leads are great in their roles as schizophrenic brother (David Hewlett) and innocent, put-upon sister (Cynthia Preston) and the siblings affection for one another make the viewer progressively more sympathetic to them as we near the outcome.

Pin himself is creepy enough, although remarkably less so in the latter half of the film, once Leon has made him look more human. At times it’s so life-like that I wondered whether it were indeed an inanimate dummy or whether it was a real person wearing a dummy costume.

It’s interesting to note that the film is based on a, supposedly far more disturbing, novel, written by the same man behind The Devils Advocate. There is also a notable appearance from Lost’s John Locke as Leon and Ursula’s Father, who was a little more hirsute back in the 80’s.

At times, the film serves to make the audience question their own sanity which is a little unsettling but all in all, whether some of the ‘shock’ factor has been lost over the years or whether it was just never quite as disturbing as you remembered it to be, it fails to live up to the hype. It’s a great little film though, that being said, but try not to get bogged down in the rumours of it’s notoriety and just enjoy it for the well-paced little slice of nostalgic peculiarity that it is.

Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.