Fantastic Fest Review: Piggy

Spanish teen slasher subverts the tropes

Piggy

Ah, the teen summer slasher. Its tropes are some of the most familiar in horror cinema, whether it’s the hulking, shambling killer; the socially outcast protagonist; the love-to-hate-’em ensemble inevitably punished for their transgressions; the spooky (but rarely lethal) scene in the water; and of course, the violently explosive ending.

Piggy is the newest addition to the classic subgenre, even down to an ominous pool scene to kick things off. If so, writer/director Carlota Pereda’s piercing horror drama about a bullied teen with the revenge opportunity of a lifetime takes the tropes in a surprisingly intimate direction.

Sara (Laura Galán) is living the life every teenager dreads. She has no apparent friends, spends afternoons working in her parents’ butcher shop, and is tormented by a trio of girls in town. A particularly harrowing incident at the local pool leads to a grueling walk home that just keeps getting worse, especially when she finds herself the sole witness to a brutal kidnapping – and (spoiler alert) her bullies are the victims.

What unfolds is a deeply honest and perturbing look at petty viciousness, teenage desire, and two very different causes of psychological scarring: receiving suffering, and inflicting it.

Sara’s bullies are so perfectly loathsome that rooting for their survival is almost impossible, a trope that lesser horror movies have exploited for years, and to spectacular bloody ends. But Pereda is clearly not interested in shallow depictions of violence or cruelty, however gratifying they may be for an audience. There are no easy dichotomies here, no reductions to mere good and evil, heroes and villains, which makes Piggy as fascinatingly human as it is morally squirm-inducing. Everyone on screen is shown to be equally capable of kindness and cruelty, perhaps best exemplified by the kidnapper’s repeated consideration of Sara’s needs – consideration Sara has badly needed from someone. That interpersonal gray area masterfully complicates the situation while also serving to drive home an underlying message that if everyone is capable of malice, no one is deserving of it.

Before its Fantastic Fest screening, Pereda proved herself a woman after my own heart by saying, “I hate when a director tells you about the movie right before you watch it, so I’ll just say this,” then oinking and leaving the stage. That confidence bleeds into every moment of Piggy. Then again, a product this good speaks for itself.


Piggy

Texas Premiere
Thu. Sept. 29, 5pm

Follow all our coverage, news, reviews, and interviews at austinchronicle.com/fantastic-fest.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More by Jasmine Lane
Piggy
Spanish teen slasher subverts the tropes with a new kind of protagonist

Oct. 7, 2022

Fantastic Fest Review: <i>Huesera</i>
Huesera
Motherhood told in splintered bones and fractured identity

Sept. 27, 2022

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Fantastic Fest, Fantastic Fest 2022, Piggy

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle