Piggy (2022) poster

Piggy (2022)



Spain/France. 2022.


Director/Screenplay – Carlota Pereda, Producers – Merry Colomer, Photography – Rita Noriega, Music – Olivier Arson, Visual Effects – ADD Fiction (Supervisor – Antoine Dezelli), Special Effects Supervisor – Miguel Olarieta Soto, Makeup Effects – ND Studio (Supervisor – Nacho Diaz), Production Design – Oscar Sempere. Production Company – Morena Films/Backup Studio/Cerdita Aie/La Banque Postale Image15/Indiefilms 10/Triodos Bank/RTVE/M+.


Laura Galan (Sara), Richard Holmes (Stranger), Carmen Machi (Sara’s Mother), Julian Varcarcel (Sara’s Father), Irene Ferreiro (Claudia), Fernando Delgado-Hierro (Juan Carlos), Camille Aguilar (Roci), Jose Pastor (Pedro), Claudia Salas (Maci), Amets Otzoa (Sara’s Brother), Pilar Castro (Elena), Chema Del Barco (Juan Carlos)


In a small town in the province of Extremadura, a group of teenage girls make fun of the overweight Sara, posting a photo from the family’s butcher shop on social media labelled ‘The Three Little Pigs.’ Sara goes to swim at a pool but the same girls, including Sara’s friend Claudia, come by and play a cruel prank where they try to force Sara’s head under the water using a net. They then steal Sara’s clothes, forcing her to walk home alone in her bikini, where she is subject to ridicule. Sara then comes across a van driven by a man who was at the pool and finds he has taken the girls prisoner. She deliberately chooses to do nothing to help the girls. The man departs, leaving Sara’s clothes for her. With the town upset over the missing girls and the body of the lifeguard who was found dead in the pool, Sara chooses to say nothing and denies she was at the pool even as evidence mounts that she was. Meanwhile, the stranger who abducted the girls begins to regard Sara as his new friend.

Piggy was the second film for Spanish director Carlota Pereda who had previously been a co-director of the horror film The Devil’s Tail (2021). Pereda had previously made the basis of this film as the fourteen-minute long Piggy (2018), also starring Laura Galan. (This can be found here at YouTube). This enjoyed good word of mouth and Pereda gained assorted pan-European funding to expand it to feature-length.

The original version of Piggy consists of the same scenes that take place at the start of the film here where Laura Galan is cruelly tormented by girls at the pool only to see them abducted by a serial killer whereupon she stands back and does nothing. These scenes make for a phenomenal opening. We feel the cruelties as Laura Galan struggles as the other girls push her head under the water with a pool scoop and then steal her clothes, forcing her to walk home in her bikini as other youths stop by and taunt and grab her. All before she sees a van pull up in which the man who was at the pool (Richard Holmes) has abducted her tormentors. We see her friend Claudia (Irene Ferreiro) with her bloody hand against the van window begging for help, only for Sara to stand there and wave bye-bye as the man throws the bag with her clothes to the ground and drives off. It’s a fantastic scene – the sense of moral indecision that Sara undergoes before her sardonic waving bye plays out even better in the original short film.

When it comes to the full-length version of the film, Carlota Pereda has essentially gone away and directly remade the short film – using the same pool and side road locations (in Villanueva de la Vera in the province of Extremadura) and even identical shot set-ups. There is a little more expanding around this in the initial scene with Sara at the family butcher shop and the addition of Claudia as her friend.

Sara (Laura Galan) forced to walk home in her bikini in Piggy (2022)
Sara (Laura Galan) forced to walk home in her bikini

After that point, the film is stuck with trying to expand a near-perfect 14-minute short out to a 99-minute film. The opening scenes occupy roughly the same runtime here as they do in the short film. Up until the climactic scenes, which I will get to in a minute, that means that the full-length Piggy consists of about an hour’s worth of padding. This far less interestingly deals with the aftermath of what happened at the pool – Sara trying to locate her phone, the search for the missing girls, Sara hiding what happened from her mother, suspicion accruing from two other guys around the town that she was at the pool. These are far less interesting than the savage bite that came in the ending of the short film. The most interesting of these new additions is how the Serial Killer (Richard Holmes) develops a crush on Sara and is constantly leaving things like chocolate bars for her and how she seems to positively respond to the attention.

Certainly, these scenes contain a phenomenal performance from Laura Galan. It is one that is both fearless – the scene where she strips off her bikini to get into the pool, showing her plus-size body in all its glory, is jaw-dropping for the simple fact that we never get such a thing on screen. The sense of fear and confusion as she undergoes ongoing humiliations throughout contains a considerable conviction. And the ferocity of her glare as she picks up the shotgun or walks down the road at the end – one that is so iconic that it was used as the film’s poster – has a fierceness that burns its way through the screen. (In an interesting side note, Sara is said to be a minor, which in Spain would mean that she is under the age of sixteen, whereas in real life Laura Galan is 36 years old).

This leads to a grim final section with Laura Galan taken to the killer’s lair where the missing girls are strung up as prisoners. The scenes with Laura Galan in her underwear forced to run through the grimy slaughterhouse, while covered in muck, has a grimness that favourably compares to the assault on Marilyn Burns in the climactic scenes of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974).

On the other hand, I have some issues with the way that Carlota Pereda resolves this. [PLOT SPOILERS] In the climactic scenes, Laura Galvan turns and attacks Richard Holmes, biting his neck out and killing him. She then picks up the shotgun and fires at the two imprisoned girls. This holds a strong and nasty sting but Pereta dilutes it immediately after in showing that Sara has simply fired to sever the ropes holding the girls up (although the stickler in me finds it slightly incredible that you could fire a shotgun from some dozen or so feet away and hit only someone’s bound wrists and not the person). It’s an ending that seems to repudiate the rest of the film (and especially the short film) – it is Sara having decided to kill the only person who has shown her love and affection and deciding to free her tormentors instead of wave bye to them as they are dragged away to their fate.

(Nominee for Best Actress (Laura Galan) at this site’s Best of 2022 Awards).

Trailer here

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