Skip to content

Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

The Pit

1981 | Canada | 96 min | More...
A still from The Pit (1981)
C+: 3 stars (out of 5)
on Sat Oct 01, 2016

The Pit careens between laughable and disturbing.

We meet Jamie, a twelve-year-old boy transitioning to adolescence. He’s noticed girls and nudie-books, but still clings to his teddy bear. When his parents take a trip, Jamie develops a crush on the live-in babysitter.

It’s a reasonable set-up for a coming-of-age comedy, but the script takes a different direction. Jamie’s teddy bear urges him to do things. Bad things, like watch his babysitter while she sleeps, or terrorize a neighbor into stripping nude as he snaps Polaroids, or frame a man for murder, or feed people to a pit of trolls.

The way the movie lumps the titular pit in with Jamie’s other deviations is part of its quirky charm. The troll effects look cheap, and the entire premise of luring people into a giant hole in the woods is silly. It’s as though the filmmakers knew they couldn’t make these bits scary, so they opted for weird. It works. Instead of a forgettable monster movie we get oddball schlock. And I love how obnoxious the film paints Jamie’s victims. Early on, Jamie, looking lonesome, approaches an older boy and girl. Jamie says little more than “Hi,” before the older boy punches him in the face. No reason, the boy’s just mean. When Jamie feeds him to the trolls, we’re not sad.

But there’s another movie lurking beneath the inanity. A much darker one. Bits and pieces surface, like Jamie alluding to his mother molesting him, or the aforementioned scene where he watches his babysitter sleep. These scenes transcend the schlock and convey a genuine sense of unease.

To that end, The Pit is unlike anything I’ve seen. It’s not a good film, but its off-beat nature intrigues. You laugh as Jamie wheels an old biddy into the pit, then feel your skin crawl as he hits on his babysitter. It’s a wild ride.

Viewing History

    Watched on
    Thu Nov 09, 2023 via Blu-ray (Kino Lorber, 2016)
    Watched on
    Sat Oct 01, 2016
    at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema - One Loudoun