What make horror films successful is how it examines ideas that are truthful about the human condition with bloodcurdling, cinematic panache. In the case of Carlota Pereda’s feature-length film debut Piggy, she succeeds with flying colours. Adapted from her 2018 short film of the same name; Pereda has ample time to explore the horrors of humanity via fat shaming, court of public opinion, body image and self-discovery during adolescence; and she pulls it off with nary a jarring or preachy moment.
The set-up of the story starts in a painfully familiar way that is reflective of the world and not of the narrative. The bullying our lead character suffers through, the ignorance she undergoes from her loved ones and the conflict of both striving for a human connection and the looming shadow of social media are all established efficiently and without dilution. But the narrative takes a sharp turn when a wild-card antagonist enters the picture that makes the story venture into unpredictable bouts of sexual awakening, atonement and self-realization that makes the film transcend what could have been just a guilty-pleasure revenge thriller.
Pereda is both adept at adopting the language of horror as well as the real-life ramifications of the story and they are both woven well-together thanks to gruesome gore effects, a strong control of tone and a stellar lead performance from Laura Galán. She manages to portray the self-resentment (of her image), the anger (over the people around her), the timidity (which lends to some great physical comedy) and the curiousity (through the allure of sexual exploration as well as the antagonist) of her character to great aplomb.
Overall, Piggy is another fantastic example of horror that shows that the genre should not be reduced to peripheral functions such as blood and gore; but to be symbolic of ideas that strike fear within our hearts and yet happen all around us.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Piggy has screened as part of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, which is being presented virtually between January 20th and 30th, 2022. For more information head to the official Sundance page.