Prolific on the small screen, director Sandor Stern will pen the remake of his highly acclaimed 80s horror film Pin with the writer of the novel, Andrew Neiderman. But before you all bitch and moan about yet another remake, ask yourself this, have you actually seen the original? Thought not. Neither had we. Good job Arrow Films are on the case…
Leon and Ursula are already a little bit too close for comfort when they lose their parents in a tragic car accident. Inheriting the imposing family homestead, they also receive a creepy heirloom – their late father’s medical dummy, Pin. Take it to the tip, you say? Not our Leon. He’s always treated Pin like a member of the family, and this bizarre relationship is about to be taken up a notch.
Leon wants to play house, and it isn’t long before the dummy starts donning dad’s old suits and terrorising the house-guests. Ursula, naturally, begins to have serious concerns about her brother’s sanity. Brian Conley would do his nut. Then she gets a boyfriend and before you can say, "It's a puppet!", Leon and Pin play agony uncle, with more emphasis on the former.
Apparently a low-budget descendant of Psycho, Stern actually makes the Bates family look relatively sane thanks to a completely bonkers group of characters with barely any redeeming features among them. Ursula (Cynthia Preston) is a tramp. We learn this early on, when, at the tender age of about five she’s already yearning for a bit of how’s your father, telling her brother she can’t wait to be old enough to have sex because she thinks she’s really going to like it. This conversation actually takes place after the pair of them witness Pin being used as a sex aid. Nice.
Speaking of their father, Dr Linden (Lost’s Terry O’Quinn), brought the creepy doll into their lives, and during the course of his uses it as a tool to educate not only his children, but those that visit his practice. The architect of his own downfall, perhaps, his comeuppance won’t cause many sleepless nights, but David Hewlett’s sinister turn as Leon just might. There’s something fantastically disturbing about him. Maybe because he thinks Pin is real. Maybe because he tells his sister that Pin is, “The best friend you’ve ever had” before trying to get Ursula to go back downstairs and apologise to the mannequin.
It could even be because he dresses Pin up in his father’s clothes, lets him sit at the dinner table, or because he somehow manages to give him plastic surgery. If you thought Pin looked menacing before, you haven’t seen anything. The truth is, Leon is a complete wacko, and he hasn’t even killed anyone yet. Impaired by jealousy, his performance is easily the best thing about the film. You’ll sit up and shiver every time he appears.
Saddled with less than thrilling set-pieces for the most part, Pin actually dares to include one which at least wins some points for having the woman being chased refusing to run up the stairs to escape. Sadly, the dangerous Pin is crawling round the sprawling mansion in a wheelchair operated by Leon. If ever there was a time to be legging it upstairs this would be it. Sigh. Still, there’s a decent score, some utterly ridiculous one-liners (“He’d probably be locked in some wardrobe, or killed”), intriguing characters, and a wonderful twist to wrap up proceedings. Shame it goes on a bit.
It will be fascinating to see how Pin’s imminent renaissance is handled, and with no director on board yet, just what the new auteur can offer a half-decent story with the potential for some supernatural scares. With Chucky making another successful comeback, maybe Brian Conley should dust off Larry the Loafer and pitch a movie to rival Freddy Vs. Jason or Alien Vs. Predator. Whoever does take on the mantle has a pretty fine blueprint here, and any horror fan who fancies something a little bit perverse will do well by choosing to watch this curious beast.
Hewlett’s disquieting turn will keep you on tenterhooks, but director Stern has crafted a slow burner with enough chills to keep your eyes fixed firmly on the screen. With a little more claret, Pin could have been up there with the classics. Instead, it’s probably one of the best psychological horrors you’ve never seen. Don’t be a dummy, hunt it down. DW