Review by Sean Boelman
Carlota Pereda’s short film Piggy is one of the most disturbing things to have come out in the past few years, and so the feature adaptation of the film was perhaps the most exciting prospect of the Midnight section. And while the film struggles to stay alive in the middle act, the first and final thirds are so strong that this is a film not to miss.
The film follows an overweight teenage girl who, after being bullied by her classmates, makes a decision on her walk home that will have unexpected and unintended consequences. The first act of the film features what is basically a shot-for-shot recreation of the short, with the bulk of the feature exploring the aftermath of the events we had already seen.
For those who haven’t seen the short, the first third is going to be disturbing and darkly comedic, but those who already know what is coming will instead be waiting to see where it goes. And ultimately, just like the short film, there isn’t a whole lot of resolution to be found here, which will either intrigue or annoy viewers.
There is obviously a very cathartic message here about bullying, but it’s delivered with such a heavy hand in the feature that it almost borders on tastelessness. Whereas the short was clearly delivered with a demented smile, there is a feeling here that we are supposed to be taking the film seriously, and it isn’t quite as effective as a result.
Additionally, in trying to expand the characters in the film, Pereda struggled to develop their motivations. The protagonist makes some decisions throughout the film that aren’t ever fully explained, but not in a thought-provoking way. And there is very superficial development for all of the supporting characters.
Laura Galán gives an extraordinary performance in the film, having to show a great deal of range between the first and third acts. Things shift very significantly over the course of the film, and she is able to pull it off with ease. Carmen Machi also gives a memorable turn, playing the protagonist’s overcritical mother.
There is an interesting aesthetic to the film that feels quite retro. The cinematography has a grain and unique aspect ratio to it that is meant to make it more of a throwback. And the use of gore in the film, while minimal and largely contained to a few scenes, has quite an impact when it happens.
Piggy may not live up to the potential it had as a feature adaptation of an excellent short, but it’s still pretty good regardless. Carlota Pereda definitely has an interesting voice within the horror genre, and now that she seems to have worked out the kinks, her next film should be even better.
Piggy screened at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, which ran virtually from January 20-30.