Pig Killer (2022) poster

Pig Killer (2022)

Rating:


USA. 2022.

Crew

Director/Screenplay – Chad Ferrin, Producers – Chad Ferrin, Robert Miano & Robert Rhine, Photography/Visual Effects – Jeff Billings, Music – G. Tom Mac, Special Effects & Gore Designed by Joe Castro, Production Design – Matt Rumer. Production Company – Crappy World Films/Girls and Corpses/Laurelwood Pictures.

Cast

Jake Busey (Rodrick ‘Willy’ Pickman), Kate Patel (Wendy Eastman), Lew Temple (David Pickman), Robert Miano (Karl Eastman), Bai Ling (Brenda Wall), Kurt Bonzell (Pat Castellaneta), Sylvia Spross (Marilyn Eastman), Susan Priver (Adrienne Brooks), James Russo (Rat), Michael Paré (Detective Oppal), Ginger Lynn Allen (Louise Pickman), Elina Madison (Faith ‘Angel’ Pakula), Robert Rhine (Detective Schneer), Scott Vogel (Bill Hickok), Cassandra Gava (Janet Wall), Cyril O’Reilly (Leonard Pickman)


Plot

Robert ‘Willy’ Pickton runs a pig farm with his brother David in British Columbia, Canada. Willy likes to throw parties on the farm with lots of available girls and drugs. Willy also likes to pick-up prostitutes on the Eastside, bring them home and kill them during sex after which he feeds their bodies to his pigs. Willy comes under investigation by police who are searching for one of the missing prostitutes. At the same time, Wendy Eastman, a girl with drug addiction issues, is having difficultly at home, not getting on with her father Karl’s new wife Marilyn. She runs away and is befriended by Willy in an Eastside bar.


Minnesota-based director Chad Ferrin has maintained a modest career down the low-budget independent end of the horror market since the start of the 2000s. Ferrin first appeared with the psycho film Unspeakable (2000) and then went onto The Ghouls (2003), Easter Bunny Kill! Kill! (2006), Someone’s Knocking at the Door (2009) about demonic rapists, the Death Row horror The Chair (2016), Parasites (2016) about killer homeless people, the gonzo comedy Exorcism at 60,000 Feet (2020), the H.P. Lovecraft film H.P. Lovecraft’s The Deep Ones (2020), Night Caller (2021) with a phone psychic against a serial killer and its sequel Scalper (2023), and H.P. Lovecraft’s The Old Ones (2024).

Pig Killer is a True Crime film based on Canadian serial killer Robert Pickton. Pickton and his brother David inherited their parents’ pig farm in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia in the mid-1990s. Not long after, they began to turn the 6.5 hectare property into a venue for parties and raves under the name Piggy Palace Good Times Society, which incredibly enough ended up being registered to operate as a charity. In 2002, the RCMP conducted a search of the property looking for illegal firearms and found items belonging to women who had been reported missing. On a subsequent search, the remains of 27 women were discovered on the property, along with the remains of others who had been fed to the pigs. Pickton was eventually charged with the murder of only six of the women. (He later claimed to have killed 49 and was frustrated that he didn’t make an even fifty). In 2007, Pickton was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for 25 years. He was killed in an attack by a fellow prison inmate in May 2024, aged 74.

Pig Killer is a film that takes place right on my doorstep. I worked and lived around Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, aka “Canada’s Worst Neighbourhood”, where Pickton selected his victims. Pickton’s crime spree was occurring when I first came to the area in 1998-2000 and the story is still a part of the local history. Viewed in terms of someone familiar with the area, Pig Killer is immediately off in a lot of ways. That’s even aside from the film’s factual inaccuracies. The neighbourhood is referred to as just ‘Eastside’, which nobody in the entire city calls it – it is ‘The Downtown Eastside’ or abbreviated to ‘The DTES’. The locations Ferrin uses – under bridges, bars with wide-open parking lots – look nothing like the real thing. The hookers and addicts that frequent the area simply look too clean and healthy. The police seem to give a whole lot more of a toss about Bai Ling’s hooker having disappeared where in reality there had to be protests before they began to take seriously the inordinate number of women that have gone missing in the area.

Jake Busey as serial killer Robert Pickton in Pig Killer (2022)
Jake Busey as serial killer Robert Pickton

There are a good many factual issues about the case that Pig Killer gets wrong. One of these is having detectives become involved in the search for a missing prostitute when in reality this did not happen. Instead the police were searching the Pickton property for unregistered firearms and during the course of their search happened on personal items of women who had been listed as missing. They returned with a second warrant and it was only then that Pickton was arrested.

In some regards, Chad Ferrin has one of his best casts – Jake Busey as Pickton, Michael Paré as a detective, the greatly underrated Bai Ling as a hooker, even former porn star Ginger Lynn Allen as Pickton’s mother. However, all of them are terrible. Look up pictures of the real Robert Pickton – he has dark balding hair, is unshaven, of medium height and is usually outfitted in plaid shirts, whereas Jake Busey has a full head of sandy hair, is 6’3”, clean shaven, has a cocky laidback drawl (which is quite unlike how locals talk) and is outfitted in knitted sweaters – in other words, he looks nothing at all like Pickton. Busey seems to play the part like a comic parody of a backwoods hick, although as you keep watching his performance you begin to have doubts if the comedy was intentional or not.

Indeed, the opening scenes where Jake Busey picks up prostitute Bai Ling leaves you unsure whether Pig Killer is meant to be serious or a comedy. Here a combination of Bai Ling’s fake bad English accent, her range of comic expressions when supposedly having sex and being strangled, a pig entering the bedroom as they are going at it and Busey’s endearments to the pig, all make the scene seem ridiculous.

The film also spends an inordinate amount of time on Kate Patel as a recovering addict and her home issues before she is drawn into Pickton’s orbit, which seems like filler given that she is a character invented for the film, not one integral to the action. Other scenes such as the one where Elina Madison ventures into the caravan and then thinks she hears noises gets drawn out in a way that seems amateurish. The scene comes with a lame payoff were Busey jumps out of the toilet wearing a pig mask, jabs a syringe in one of her eyes and then forces himself on her. It is a mystery why Chad Ferrin, who has made some not bad films elsewhere, seems to have taken a true-life subject matter that has much grim potential and so badly screwed it up.


Trailer here


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