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Friday, October 4, 2013

Pig Hunt: Threats from Within, Threats from Without

It’s time again for monster movies in October. To be honest, I watch monster and horror movies all year, but in October I try to write a little bit about them.

Pig Hunt (2008 ) is an odd sort of horror movie. It starts out as one thing, but makes a left turn in the third act, combining hillbilly horror, crazed cultists, and a 3,000 lbs wild hog. It's a low budget film, but the photography is consistently decent, and the special effects are pretty good. The quality of the acting is a little uneven, some of the actors are quite competent, others…not so much.  And the script could have been a little tighter – especially in the first act which is talky and overlong.  But over-all it’s a decent B movie.  

A group of young men (and one young woman) have plans to go out into the woods for a hunting trip.    To this point it’s a pretty common horror movie scenario, one that we’ve probably seen numerous times already – it’s the clash of cultures and the fear of the strangers.  Inexperienced city folk go out into the wilderness (any place without a Starbucks or cell phone towers) where they are confronted by strange and menacing hillbillies and rednecks.  Think Deliverance, or The Hills Have Eyes or I Spit on your Grave.  These urbanites are also confronted by an internal threat as well – their own inexperience and immaturity.  This internal conflict destabilizes the group and leaves them exposed to the threatening strangers.

The movie’s pace picks up immensely with an unexpected death in the second act.  Suddenly those threats become real.  Grisly death and violent mayhem ensue. There is blood and there is gore.

And then, as it looks like the story is coming to an end, James Isaac turns the story sideways.  It’s not quite unexpected; he set up the twist in the beginning, but it is an odd turn in the story. 

What I liked:

1) Les Claypool – singer and bassist for the band, Primus – makes an appearance, and provides some of the film’s music.
2) The black guy (played by Howard Johnson Jr. –“I think Howard Johnson is right!”) isn’t the first to die.
3) Some of the action sequences were really quite compelling - especially considering the film’s low budget quality.
4) The special effects, especially for the wild-pig, are pretty well done.

What I didn’t really like:

1) As already mentioned, the first act was a bit too long, and overly wordy… a minor quibble

2) The movie is concluded with an epilogue lifted from George Orwell’s Animal Farm. “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”  Sure, it has a connection to the film (pigs, and all…) but I thought the point was already made within the film itself. To repeat the theme in such a heavy handed way, makes me think that Isaac either didn’t trust his film to communicate, or didn’t trust the audience to understand. 

3) While I like horror movies, and think that they are (or the good ones can be) vehicles for us to think about ourselves and our values and beliefs, I sometimes wonder if this subgenre (hillbilly horror) does more to perpetuate urban / rural stereotypes and division.  

This year's movies so far:

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