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Pig - Pig Pictures Print E-mail
User Rating: / 7
Written by Ray Casta   
Saturday, 18 December 2010

Directed by: Adam Mason
Written by: Andrew Howard & Adam Mason
Produced by: Patrick Ewald, Andrew Howard, Adam Mason, Michael J. Sarna
Cinematography by: Aaj Satan
Cast: Molly Black, Guy Burnet, Andrew Howard, Lorry O'Toole, Juliet Quintin-Archard
Year: 2010
Country: USA
Language: English
Color: Color
Runtime: 70 min

Twitch Film, Bloody Disgusting and Dread Central were among the few websites on April 17th of this year which hosted a controversial film for free.  The film was "Pig."  It was directed by Adam Mason ("Broken," "The Devil's Chair"), who boldly took it upon himself to film it at the same time as the production of his upcoming "Luster."  Off the radar, Mason and his producers embarked on a journey to complete a movie entirely on their own, from the filming to the post-production.  Yet this was not to be a conventional film by any standard.  Mason and his producers set out to make a gritty, retro exploitation film.  The "catch": It was to be shot entirely in a single take, on location and in real time.

As the film opens, a frightened woman is running up a deserted road in the middle of nowhere.  The camera follows her.  She is bloody, beat up, her clothes are torn up and she looks physically exhausted.  A pick up truck drives up the road.  It is revealed the driver is the very person the girl is running away from.  He sports a hat and wears a bloody wifebeater.  When the man catches up to the woman, he beats her and headbutts her, violently.  He throws her in the back of his truck and drives back to his trailer park hideaway as a humorous public service broadcast plays on the radio.  We watch as he taunts the victim he just picked up, as well as another female victim who is chained to his trailer.  Things do not get any better, just worse.  We learn he has a wife he keeps in a cage, and we assume it was a previous victim.  She refers to him as Daddy, and she is pregnant with his baby.  She occasionally assists him in his crimes.  While it is completely random, the film is a grisly slice in the life of a backwoods serial killer and his fucked up family, shot in one take.  That is all.

There is no plot whatsoever, and Adam Mason would be the first person to admit that.  His film is purely an experiment, one that does not rely on a strong narrative or character development.  A narrative does not exist here.  Instead, "Pig" relies on its tricky one-shot technique, while it pays homage to exploitation cinema of the "video nasty" era.  Devoid of dialogue, the screenplay by Mason and Howard was an outline.  The dialogue was all improvised, and Howard plays the killer with such sadistic intensity, it's an amazing sight to behold.  He is wildly over the top in this role.  He is supposed to be, of course.  He chews every scene he's in and spits it out.  More or less, the movie rests on his (and other actors) shoulders.  He carries the movie on his shoulder, as he stalks and tortures his victims over the backwoods locale.  For 70 minutes, he dominates the screen.  Due to his performance, "Pig" can actually be viewed as a black comedy.

Technically, "Pig" is an inventive stab at cinéma vérité filmmaking.  Its guerilla-style is impressive.  Working between the shooting schedule of "Luster," Adam Mason shot 25 minutes in a day until the production ultimately wrapped.  Many people who are interested in "Pig" may have a burning question: Are all 70 minutes unbroken?  The answer: No.  If you pay close attention, there are a few cuts.  If I had to guess I would say the majority of the run time is unbroken, however.  Although the hidden cuts are not as "obvious" as those found in Alfred Hitchcock's "Rope," they nonetheless pop out at the attentive viewer.  Even still, the effect is elaborate and grandiose.  Though the movie is not "effect heavy," the effects that are evident had to be snuck in hastily.

Violence in "Pig" is rough, raw and unsettling.  This is the type of material censors loathe.  This is unspeakable behavior, where viewers are disgusted, offended and repelled by.  More than likely, many of its angry detesters would like Adam Mason's film to be banned and shelved, never to see the light of day.  Unsurprisingly, the film's producers are having a nearly impossible time finding a distributor.  It isn't very hard to figure out why.  The film's hardcore brutality consists of a truly psychopathic, evil madman who takes a significant amount of joy in maiming his victims to a bloody pulp.  He pisses on them, rapes and kills without blinking an eye.  He feasts on his victims literally -- as it seems he has a taste for human flesh, as well.  Mason treats the characters similarly as the killer: there is no one to care for.  No one has an identity, as they're seen as simply pieces of "meat" for the killer to dispose of.  The film will be wrongly accused of misogyny.  Wrongly, because the killer does not care if his victims are male or female.  He sees them all as equal.  The victims stand no chance to the atrocities which await them.  There's nothing overly graphic here, in which the likes of us haven't seen before.  It's just that the overall demeanor of "Pig" is what makes the viewing so extremely cruel.

Is "Pig" a great film?  No, not at all.  From a strict critical perspective, the film is quite flawed.  The film was reportedly two hours long in length, but the producers decided it'd be too boring so they cut it down.  At its final length of 70 minutes, it still feels stretched out.  Some sequences drag on with the antagonist's babbling and fumbling about.  The antagonist's pregnant "wife" is mentally impaired and seems like she belongs in Harmony Korine's "Trash Humpers."  She is a major annoyance, and seems to bring next to nothing substantial here.  When you have a film that is heavily improvised, some of it works and some of it doesn't.  That is definitely the case here.  While the adlib fails on occasion, most of the dialogue is terrific in the pitch-black humor.  The characters are one-dimensional -- there is no back story provided, and we do not care for anyone.  For many viewers, this is an immediate turn off.

As an "experiment", does it work?  Yes.  Above anything else, "Pig" succeeds on a technical level.  Although this is a very difficult film to fully recommend, it was an intriguing experience.  The 70 minutes of filth and unapologetic inhumanity is made responsible from the hard work from the cast and crew, the execution of its single take and the brilliantly maniacal lead performance by Andrew Howard.  The filmmakers wanted to make an angry film that lashed out against their censors, the studios, and the overall frustration behind previous directorial efforts.  There is not much here beyond the random violence, but one can make an interesting parallel with the radio broadcast to the killer and his wife and to their victims.  The radio broadcast gives stern advice on relationships and speaks on gender relations.  This is where the film can be construed as satire.  We aren't really sure if this is all "intentional" on part of the filmmakers, but the suggestion is there.

There is not a shred of humanity to be found here.  Devoid of any hope or morality, it's an ugly, reprehensible and unpleasant little film.  Filled with cruelty and hatred, "Pig" rears its savage head at the censors and gives them a middle finger.



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