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Review: Adam Mason's Pig, starring Andrew Howard

Jun. 24, 2011by: Eric Walkuski

PLOT: A lunatic (Andrew Howard) has a woman chained to his dilapidated motor home in the middle of an empty, godforsaken valley. Along with his mentally impaired daughter/lover, he heckles, beats, urinates on and degrades her for 90 straight minutes, while sometimes taking a break to drink or cook. This is PIG.

REVIEW: It's always a challenge to review a movie like PIG on its own terms. Do I give it credit for accomplishing what it sets out to do, which is to make us spend 90 long, torturous minutes (supposedly in real time) with a complete maniac as he humiliates and degrades a young woman chained to to his motor home? Or do I say what was quite apparent to me the entire time, that there's no earthly reason for this movie to exist, other than to showcase some admittedly impressive camerawork and to give actor Andrew Howard an opportunity to rage on like a hillbilly from hell in a performance that never lets up for a second? I guess I can do both.

Truth be told, the plot summary above is basically all there is to PIG. The film starts with a woman running frantically along a country road, only to eventually be stopped and abducted by a man whose name we'll never know. He drives the woman back to his motor home (apparently miles away from any other such home) and accidentally kills her. Obviously repentant about the death, he still continues to slice her throat, drain her blood, rip out her liver, etc... All the while, her friend (another nameless character, this time a woman) watches on, mortified. This friend will be the pitiful focus of the man's insanity for the remainder of the film, although we do meet another captive (let's call him Nameless Man #2) for a stretch, who the maniac tortures as well. The maniac also has a daughter who he keeps in a cage who joins him in the action, although she's mentally handicapped and does nothing more than moan and scream unintelligible gibberish the entire time. He calls her "Retard" and she might even be his lover, too. These folks aren't exactly the salt of the earth. PIG offers no hope, no answers, no genuine entertainment value... and that's the way it wants it.

I suppose PIG can be considered experimental. It makes no attempt to explain itself, nor does it apologize for its existence. Nor, for that matter, does it justify it. As it happens, PIG is more of a curiosity than an actual horror film. We learn nothing about these people, no attempt is made at understanding them or investigating what has transpired before our arrival on the scene. It's simply an hour and a half in this dusty hellscape with this psycho and his personality-free victims. It honestly becomes a chore to watch after a while.

So what does PIG have going for it? The camerawork is the stand-out element. The gimmick here is that the film presents itself as one long unbroken shot, so these events are ostensibly happening in real time. And that part of PIG works. Mason's camerawork is definitely impressive; the single-shot gimmick is convincing throughout (even though one is able to tell where the hidden cuts are a few times), and visually it's a crisp and good-looking movie. Based on this and LUSTER, it's clear that Mason can lend a low-budget movie a unique, visceral style.

Alas, there's precious little else to recommend. Andrew Howard, as he's shown in past performances (the I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE remake and LUSTER, particularly), is a force of nature when he's going off on somebody, and he certainly commits to this relatively thankless role. The other actors do their jobs, I guess, but really what can you say about them when their only clear direction was to act as out of their minds as possible?

All that said, this is the movie Mason clearly wanted to make. It's the cinematic equivalent to someone forcefully shoving your face into something you don't want to look at. 

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