Studio: Inception Media Group
Director: Kieron Hawkes
Writer: Kieron Hawkes
Producer: Danny Potts, Leo Pearlman
Stars: Martin Compston, Louise Dylan, Roland Manookian, Neil Maskell, Paul Anderson
Following his brother’s murder, a timid young man is taught how to exact brutal revenge by a mysterious vigilante.
The cover art for “Piggy” makes it look like a cheap slasher featuring a killer in a goofy rubber pig’s nose, since all of the good horror icon face accessories like hockey masks and human skin have already been taken. It’s too bad the title and the image give an impression of the movie being something derivative and lower brow than it actually is. Because “Piggy” is not a cheap slasher at all, but a psychological character study that accentuates mood and motivation instead of gory body counts and typical horror movie trappings.
Introverted and shy to be sure, Joe is not so much a coward as he is someone who would simply prefer to avoid confrontation. His instinct to switch sides of the street when unfamiliar faces in hoodies are in the way is just how he minds his own business and plays it safe. Joe is not a fear-obsessed loner with overly irrational tendencies. He is a sympathetic and relatable hero, albeit a timid one.
Despite his best efforts to stay out of trouble, trouble finds him in the form of a street thug named Jamie who puffs his chest at a pub after Joe accidentally gives the man a slight bump. Joe’s brother John saves the day, but John pays the price later when Jamie and his crew stab Joe’s brother to death on his walk home.
Joe stews in post-funeral guilt and grief for only a short spell however, as a man claiming to be an old mate of John’s arrives unannounced on Joe’s doorstep. Going only by his titular nickname, Piggy works his way into Joe’s life as the meek man’s mentor in all things pertaining to revenge and vigilantism. Joe wants justice for his brother’s murder. And Piggy wants to teach Joe that he is capable of meting out that justice for himself, even if it involves a punch, knife, or fatal curb stomp.
Although not presented as a key mystery to mull over necessarily, Piggy’s serendipitously unexpected appearance and the fact that he interacts solely with Joe except when killing introduces the question of if Piggy is a real person or just a manifestation of Joe’s psyche. Either way, it makes their scenes together play like an envisioning of Dexter relating directly with his Dark Passenger instead of just mentally struggling against the dark urges in his fractured serial stalker mind.
Unfortunately, the ambiguity surrounding Piggy’s possibly imaginary origin undermines the movie’s message. Is “Piggy” meant to be an examination of how a passive man can be corrupted through an external influence? Or is it intended as a portrait of weakened willpower succumbing to a suppressed twisted side that was raging to escape?
The interplay between Joe and Piggy is initially interesting. Until the open to interpretation meaning behind it all sadly deprives “Piggy” of having a clear perspective regarding what it wants to say about morality. Executing a character study is difficult to do when it is unclear if the examination is of two separate individuals or of two sides to the same person. Painting a psychological mindscape to illustrate either scenario is equally challenging for the same reason.
Even with scenes of violent brutality and its theme of dark duality, “Piggy” is played as an emotional tragedy instead of as perverse revenge film entertainment. A bleak color palette and a camera constantly flowing in graceful motions make the movie aesthetically appealing to look at. Exceptional production design is in keeping with the sincerity of effort on display and with the intelligent approach driving the script. But “Piggy” is ultimately undercut by a muddled purpose and an overstayed welcome that makes for an unsatisfying overall impact.
“Piggy” would be a more engaging watch if it were about 15 minutes shorter. Some individual scenes bear the drag more than others, yet even at just 105 minutes, the tempo takes a hit from a plot having to bear the weight of such a dreary tone. Piano keys ring with haunting echoes to underscore the sadness, but without amplifying the tension. Individually, all of the movie’s elements are professionally constructed. Yet once they are layered to work together, “Piggy” becomes too confused about exactly what mood it means to evoke.
Review Score: 60