The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Cinema] - PIGGY | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Cinema] - PIGGY

A serial killer comes to the aid of a bullied teen by abducting her tormentors.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Carlota Pereda

Starring: Laura Galán, Richard Holmes, Carmen Machi, Claudia Salas, Irene Ferreiro, Camille Aguilar, Pilar Castro

I've never been able to corroborate this, but a Spanish friend once told me that among the many films banned by Franco's fascist regime were those that featured talking animals. Franco was reputedly concerned that such movies might lead viewers to become vegetarians and thus cause damage to the country's meat industry. Anyone who has visited Spain will tell you the country takes its meat very, very seriously.

Writer/director Carlota Pereda's Spanish thriller Piggy opens in a butcher shop and climaxes in a slaughterhouse. The meat being sliced up in the opening is that of the animal variety, while in the climax…well, you can imagine.

Overweight teenager Sara (Laura Galán) is constantly targeted by a trio of the meanest girls imaginable. They've nicknamed her "Piggy", are always taunting her with insults and even come close to drowning her as she bathes in the local pool before running off with her clothes, forcing Sara to walk home in her bikini.

The three assholes concerned post a picture to Instagram of Laura and her parents, labeling the post "The Three Little Pigs." In an ironic twist, the girls become the three little pigs when a big bad wolf comes to town in the form of a serial killer (Richard Holmes). On her way home, Sara comes across the killer as he loads her three tormentors into the back of a white van. After exchanging a knowing glance he throws a towel to Sara and sets off.

When the body of the pool's lifeguard is found, and another lifeguard is reported missing, Sara realises just how much danger her bullies are in. After weighing up whether she should tell the police what she witnessed, "Fuck them" is her decision.

For her feature debut, Pereda has taken elements from two of her country's most notable genre movies – Eloy de la Iglesia's The Cannibal Man, in which a butcher takes extreme lengths to cover up his accidental killing of a cab driver, and Victor Erice's The Spirit of the Beehive, in which a young girl imagines Frankenstein's Monster as her saviour from the hardships of the Franco regime. The latter has been reworked several times recently as stories of troubled young people befriending monsters – see Halloween Ends, Martyr's Lane and Slapface – but Pereda might be the first to put a psychosexual spin on the premise. Sara finds herself attracted to this dangerous man who has inadvertently done her a favour, and at one point the pair even come close to sharing a kiss.

Galán is excellent as the constantly tortured Sara. Her torment is so palpable that few viewers will be frowning upon her choice to keep her knowledge of her bullies' fate a secret, but the guilt eats away at her to such a degree that it becomes harder to endure than the daily bullying she previously suffered.

The film works best in its opening buildup, which does a fine job of establishing how awful it can be to be marked as a figure of mockery in a small, insular community, and in its middle section, as Sara weighs up her guilt while being drawn to the killer, who continually lingers around the town. It's let down by a generic climax that feels like a bit of a cop-out as it veers away from the dark conclusion it seems naturally bound for.

As a director, Pereda has made a strikingly assured feature debut. Sequences are pieced together with the studied skill of a veteran rather than a debutant. A standout set-piece sees Sara and the killer attempt to avoid the parents of the abducted girls, who are searching for them in the local woods. There's a Spielbergian quality to how Pereda and cinematographer Rita Noriega employ the lights of the parents' torches as beacons of threat, glancing just past Sara as she attempts to keep out of sight. It's reminiscent of the opening of ET or that nerve-wracking basement scene in War of the Worlds. Might Pereda have a Jaws in her?

 is in UK cinemas from January 6th.