Jamie Benjamin (Sammy Snyders) is a twelve year old boy who seemingly can’t get a break. He’s bullied at school, his neighbors are not fond of him, his father (Richard Alden) professes he loves him, but is curt with him, and his mother (Laura Press) doesn’t know how to help him. In fairness to the aforementioned, Jamie has some quirks as the viewer will learn. Furthermore, his companions are his pet reptiles and his teddy bear, whom he refers to as Teddy. He talks to the bear as if it is a living thing and he still sleeps with it, even though the majority of children his age are past that phase of their lives.
The Benjamin’s have had trouble keeping a babysitter for Jamie. They seem to come and go with no explanation given as to why they can no longer sit for him. The latest babysitter is Sandy O’ Reilly (Jeannie Elias). She is a psychology student who considers it a good opportunity to work with a child like Jamie. She will do her best to give him every benefit of the doubt and attempt to be his friend. As soon as Jamie sees her he is taken with Sandy. Is it an innocent school boy crush that he develops, or is Jamie thinking perverted thoughts?
An example of Jamie’s problem making friends is his dealings with Abergail (Andrea Swartz). The young girl taunts Jamie and plays mean tricks on him. If she would just be his friend, perhaps it wouldn’t lead Jamie to take some of the actions that he does later on in the film. Abergail is the niece of Ms. Livingstone (Laura Hollingsworth), the local librarian. She is another older woman who Jamie has an unhealthy obsession with. One scene shows the lengths Jamie will go to invade her privacy.
Deep in the woods, on one of his outings, Jamie has discovered a pit. Inside of the pit are creatures called Trogs. They are vicious sharp fanged primates who eat meat. At first Jamie makes trips to the butcher shop and buys them food, but then his devious mind, thanks in part to his conversations with Teddy, thinks up a plan of revenge. The plan will both feed the creatures and get rid of those who’ve wronged him. (As an aside: The pit for the film took two weeks to build).
Does the pit really have man eating creatures, or is it nothing more than a large hole in the ground? Are the conversations Jamie has with Teddy real, or a byproduct of a disturbed imagination? How far will Jamie go to carry out his plan of revenge? All of those questions will be answered before the film’s conclusion.
“The Pit” was directed by Lew Lehman, who during his career was a cinematic jack of all trades; he acted, wrote, produced and directed. The screenplay was written by Ian. A. Stuart (The Highland Regiments of Canada). The film was based on the novel “Teddy” which Stuart co-wrote with John Gault. According to the authors, the book was more serious than the movie and took a much darker tone. The film premiered on October 23, 1981. Parts horror and mystery, the movie has a runtime of 96 minutes.
I had heard about this Canadian film for a long time, but up until recently had never watched it. I was able to watch it on Amazon Prime on the Shudder channel. The movie is the type where a viewer must suspend disbelief, in order to enjoy the film, and not get caught up questioning some scenes that are implausible, given the age of the main antagonist. Overall, I got a genuine kick out of the film and without giving anything away, I thought the ending wraps things up nicely, considering the film didn’t garner any sequels.