Director – Sandor Stern
Cast – David Hewlett, Cynthia Preston, Terry O’Quinn, Bronwen Mantel, John Pyper-Ferguson, Helene Udy, Patricia Collins, Steven Bednarski, Katie Shingler, Jacob Tierney, Michelle Anderson, Joan Austen
Release Year – 1988
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This is a film that had me heavily interested in it from the moment I first came across its plot. I have always been a huge fan of what “inanimate” horror, especially involving dolls/dummies/etc. Giving us a Psycho-esque story involving a young man’s fascination with his father’s old medical dummy, Pin delivers a slow-moving but sufficiently creepy watch that not only delivers some good psychological horror, but uses the “inanimate” horror to good potential.
Leon and Ursula are brother and sister growing up in a home raised by their stern father, a doctor, and an equally stern mother. Their only friend is Pin, a medical dummy in their father’s medical practice, a dummy that he often voices and uses to teach life lessons to the children. When their father and mother are killed in an automobile accident, Leon and Ursula are left to raise themselves, and Leon relocates Pin to their home. Not long after the death of their parents does Pin begin to speak to the children again, and as Leon’s attachment to Pin continues to grow, Ursula’s rebellion towards Pin leads her down a dangerous path.
Fans of inanimate horror should find Pin to be sufficient in giving them what they enjoy seeing, although I must admit that Pin was not quite what I expected it to be. I honestly felt that going into this watch I would be given an inanimate object that came to life and delivered some good and creepy horror, but that was unfortunately not the case. Pin is never exposed to be his own being, which kept this film from being spectacular, but that is not necessarily a bad thing thanks to a good story and mostly-positive execution.
The story moves slow during this 96 minute watch, but thankfully it moves at a positive pace due to constant developments. We are first exposed to the life the two young children were forced to live at such a young age, with stern parents who’s strong nature forced to children to rely on Pin for companionship. This only grows onto Leon as he becomes older, delivering some good character play and conflict that resembled Norman Bates in Hitchcock’s Psycho. Writer Sandor Stern(The Amityville Horror) adapted this story from Andrew Neiderman’s novel of the same name, and managed to positively write and execute this good character play between Leon and his now rebellious sister Ursula, who refuses to acknowledge Pin as a real being. The story really is a simple one overall, delivering few characters and instead focusing heavily on the two siblings and a few other characters included for conflict, and good direction aided this positive screenplay in delivering a mostly-positive watch.
Writer Sandor Stern also served as the film’s director, and managed to properly execute the tension and conflict written into the film. His usage of Pin was fantastic, and despite this dummy never getting up and moving on his own he was creepy in his own right. I loved the voices “spoken” by Pin, and his look and mannerisms(when applicable) were top-notch and delivered some good chills despite their simplicity. We get a great performance from David Hewlett as Leon as he perfectly sold the role of his innocent yet antagonizing character raised on his simple belief of what true friendship and loyalty are all about, which eventually leads him to commit heinous acts in the name of Pin. The look and feel of the film is dated, and we don’t get any sweet kills or gore thrown into the mix, all you have to rely on for horror is the look and usage of Pin, which is enough for this film’s mostly-positive rating.
Overall, this low-budget Psycho-esque inanimate horror film delivers some decent spooks thanks to good usage of Pin, and provides us with great character play thanks to a finely adapted screenplay from Neiderman’s novel. Pin moves a bit slow and its simplicity keeps it from moving in multiple directions, but in the end it provides enough horror if you know what you are getting yourself into.