Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Terry O’Quinn, Bronwen Mantel
Extras: Commentary Track, Theatrical Trailer
As "Pin" opens, we meet young siblings Leon and Ursula Linden. It is immediately made apparent to the viewer that the parents of these two children are very strict and unemotional. The father, Dr. Linden (Terry O’Quinn) enjoys testing the children’s intelligence and doesn’t tolerate failure. Mrs. Linden (Bronwen Mantel) shows some obsessive-compulsive tendencies and doesn’t allow any dirt in the house. Dr. Linden has an anatomical dummy in his office which Ursula has named "Pin", which is short for "Pinocchio". Dr. Linden is an amateur ventriloquist and speaks through "Pin" to comfort his younger patients. Also, he uses "Pin’ to help teach Leon and Ursula about life and medicine, as he is much more interested in teaching them than in loving them. As Leon and Ursula grow up, they each begin to exhibit behaviors which are a direct result from their unusual upbringing. Ursula is an inquisitive and experimental girl, who will soon become sexually promiscuous. And, at age 11, she realizes that it’s her father who’s been making "Pin" talk all this time.
As you can tell from the synopsis above, "Pin" is an unusual film, and it is one of the few psychological thrillers that really work. "Pin" is based on a novel by writer Andre Neiderman and screenwriter/director Sandor Stern has tried to retain the psychological tension from the book. There are many little things that make the film work well as a whole. First, Stern takes his time and sets up the relationships between the main characters. It’s very important that we see not only the pathology existing in Dr. and Mrs. Linden (which will eventually be passed on to Leon), but also the close bond between Leon and Ursula. For, later in the film, the viewer will question why Ursula doesn’t seem leave Leon (or better yet, have him committed), but the first half of the film reveals their close relationship and dedication to one another.
As mentioned in the introduction, one of the most redeeming qualities in "Pin" is its accurate portrayal of mental illness. Except for a handful of scenes, Leon comes across as perfectly normal. (Although the fact that he’s ALWAYS wearing a tie immediately told me that he was crazy!) Leon is polite, well-kempt, articulate, and intelligent. As long as no one challenges him on his beliefs about "Pin", he’s a perfect gentleman. Although, it must be noted that Leon has difficulty functioning whenever he is outside of his element or feels that he is threatened. This fits the pattern of many functional people who are mentally ill. Also, while Ursula’s behavior may strike some as strange, or unrealistic, it is also fairly accurate. Ursula is devoted to Leon and feels protective towards him. Despite the fact that she knows that he has severe problems, she sees him as being perfectly harmless and therefore, doesn’t force the issue about his illness. This is quite common with families, as they become the enablers of the mentally ill.
The audio on the "Pin" DVD is a Dolby 2-channel surround mix. As "Pin" is more of a character driven thriller than a big-bang piece, this soundtrack works just fine. The dialogue is always clear and audible, and there is no hissing or popPing on the track. Surround sound is used quite effectively, offering musical cues and ambient sound effects. The music never overwhelms the dialogue and the volume remains well-balanced throughout the feature.
The "Pin" DVD offers an <$commentary,audio commentary> featuring writer/director Sandor Stern and journalist Ted Newsom. It is one of the better commentaries that I’ve had the pleasure of hearing lately. It can sometimes be awkward when an obvious "interviewer" is present during the commentary, but Newsom is very familiar with the film and asks Stern many insightful questions. Stern is very open when discussing the film and has a very detailed memories about the production of "Pin" Through the commentary, you will learn about the film’s inception, the production, and the history of "Pin" Stern candidly discusses his relationship with the producers and distributors, while also offering details about his career. The most interesting facts to be gleaned from the commentary are the cost of making the "Pin" dummy and the way that "Pin"’s voice evolves throughout the film.
In case it’s not already apparent, allow me to state for the record that "Pin" is one of my favorite cult films and I’m very glad to see it on DVD. The movie is a textbook example of a quiet and thoroughly chilling psychological thriller. It offers great performances from its lead actors, and a neat shock ending. The "Pin" DVD brings us a stellar transfer and a very enlightening commentary. If you enjoy horror films that are a bit different, don’t be a dummy, check out "Pin!"