Piggy (FANTASTIC) Ponders Over Moral Quandary Amidst a Coming-of-Age Slasher
First Non-Festival Release: October 14, 2022 (Theatrical Release)
Director: Carlota Pereda
Writer: Carlota Pereda
Runtime: 90 Minutes
Starring: Laura Galán, Richard Holmes, Carmen Machi
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
This film’s review was written after its screening at the Fantastic Film Festival in 2022.
Bullied relentlessly about her weight by a group of popular girls at school, Sara (Laura Galán) wants nothing more than to disappear into the background. Her family doesn’t know about the constant abuse, and her mother (Carmen Machi) makes matters worse with her overbearing behavior. All this changes after Sara is the victim of yet another cruel prank by the crew, but this time things take a more violent turn when Sara witnesses the group getting kidnapped by a man (Richard Holmes). Infuriated at their vicious treatment of her and scared that the killer might retaliate should she do anything, Sara opts for silence despite the town’s ever-growing anxiety about the girl’s whereabouts. Sara must make a decision soon: turn in the one person who has shown her kindness or let innocent, but terrible, people die.
It doesn’t quite eclipse into the shocking slasher it promises, but Piggy is still a thoughtful morality horror with plenty of tension.
Billed as a revenge flick, there is very little revenge dealt. Sara goes on an emotional journey as she grapples with the decision to tell anyone about what she knows regarding the abduction of her bullies. It is very appreciated that much of the humor in the film offered as a respite from the drama and horror elements is directed at literally everything except Sara’s weight. Fat protagonists in horror are typically the butt of the joke, but it is nice to see that Sara is only treated as a joke by her bullies.
One trope that is beyond tiring in horror is the need for the bullied to “be better” than the bullies. Yes, it is interesting to watch Sara make decisions regarding her fate and that of the people who hurt her. Much of what she does is out of self-preservation but also the morbid curiosity to know more. The one person who has shown her kindness, at least perceived kindness, is a serial killer. She knows this and her indecisiveness on turning him in, letting him get away with it, or helping along the way is frustrating.
This clearly has to do with the fact that Sara has no voice in her life. From the beginning of the film, she struggles to stand up for herself. Moments where she could overcome her insecurities or dig her heels in, are prevented by secondary characters that have more agency over her and her decisions. Laura Galán’s performance is great, but it is difficult to get onboard with a character who is so inconsistent in her behavior. Her wavering and indecision makes for some tense moments but gets repetitive by the time she maneuvers out of her third sticky situation.
Clearly Sara has not had many great experiences growing up in her small town. She is bullied mercilessly by her peers, she loses her only friend to a posse that spearheads Sara’s abuse, her family is oblivious to her problems and refuses to truly listen to her, and she understandably wants to exist without fear and anxiety. Out of nowhere, this man comes along and shows Sara the first bit of kindness she has ever seen. It instigates a difficult moral dilemma for Sara in her desire to do the right thing but also feel power for the first time over the people cruel to her.
The relationship between Sara and Desconocido is one of the more captivating parts of Piggy and allows for some interesting coming-of-age moments. As the time ticks away on the disappearance of the local girls and Sara gets caught up in the law, Sara wrestles with her feelings towards their kidnapper and her potential feelings towards them. From his thoughtful gestures and willingness to trust Sara, she experiences what it is like to have someone in her corner. Despite all this, Sara is skeptical of his advances, most likely due to his occupation as a serial killer and the obvious age gap in question.
Strong direction and a unique twist on the slasher formula make Piggy a delectable Spanish horror treat. Awash in moral quandaries and a constant cycle of doubt and distrust, Piggy refuses to make Sara’s decisions easy which allows for an intriguing watch for audience members. The route it ultimately takes feels a bit overdone but still makes for a thrilling showdown. Put indecision to rest and place this one on your watch list since it has officially made its way to a wide release.
Overall Score? 6.5/10