Piggy - FrightFest UK Premiere Review
Director: Carlota Pereda
Starring: Laura Galán, Claudia Salas, Carmen Machi, Pilar Castro
Written by: Carlota Pereda
Produced by: Merry Colomer, David Alan Jackson
Cinematography by: Rita Noriega
Original Score by: Oliver Arson
An overweight teen is bullied by a clique of cool girls poolside while holidaying in her village. The long walk home will change the rest of her life.
Bullying is unfortunately, universally experienced by most people in their lifetime. Whether it’s because of someone's weight, skin colour, hair colour, height (the list goes on and on, sadly), it’s part of the human condition to be cruel to one another. In the film, Sara (Laura Galán) is bullied by the local mean girls in her village, who harass her daily by calling her fat and referring to her as Piggy. One day while at the local pool, Sara witnesses these bullies being kidnapped and after years of name calling and shaming, Sara just watches as they disappear in the back of a dodgy van. She thinks two things “Maybe I should have helped” but also “fuck’em”.
It's an understandable reaction and certainly the most realistic. In a world of revenge and heroic movies it’s great to see a main character be selfish for once. It's definitely the film's biggest win for me, that it’s able to create a central character and have them so relatable and never turning them into the hero they aren’t. Sure, Sara gets some heroic moments by the end, but she won’t be joining 'The Expendables' anytime soon. Laura Galán gives a great performance as Sara, making the character very sympathetic and believable. The actress quite literally puts her body on show for the role, which I found very brave. I don’t even take my t-shirt off in the swimming pool, so well done to Galán for playing Sara to her fullest. I would also like to mention Carmen Machi, who plays Sara’s mother. She gives such a fantastic humanistic performance, being so hateable as a strict mother yet still having a caring control over her daughter.
Carlota Pereda does a stellar job as writer/director. She makes this small-town community feel alive and real. Some of the bullying scenes can be a bit over the top, but I think it’s needed to capture just how far people can go with their cruelty. Pereda has said in interviews that she wanted to make a film about bullying and some of the things she’s experienced, and I think she’s done a fantastic job in using restraint. Often movies that tackle these subjects can be used as artist power fantasies, creating a central character who can do no wrong and saves the day; But Pereda and actress Laura Galán have made something special with Sara.
Rita Noriega captures the real beauty of Spain in her cinematography. Even though the film’s situation is quite dire, every scene looks like a painting. Certain scenes reminded me of a perfume commercial, in a good way of course. I can see influences of 'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre' and 'The Last House on the Left', but twisted and interpreted through a European point of view. It's the type of art house horror film that I love, following in a similar style like directors like Ti West and Ari Aster.
I wouldn’t exactly call 'Piggy' terrifying, but it is partially brutal in its realism, especially towards the end. 'Piggy' knows exactly what it is and knows how to deliver heavy blows when it needs to. It’s not your basic ‘Get revenge on the bullies’ plot, it’s something much better than that; it’s a human story. There are true monsters in the world, and for as cheesy as it is, human love and compassion is the only way we’ll be safe from them. Director Carlota Pereda has a strong command over the story here, creating something equally heart wrenching and uplifting.
- Adam Neeson
'Piggy' received its UK Premiere at FrightFest 2022 on August 29th and will hits cinemas in October.