Style can, on occasion, make up for a lack of substance but despite being an excellent looking and well shot film, Kieron Hawkes’ British thriller falls down in too many other areas. Very much a poor-man’s Dead Man’s Shoes , Piggy lacks both the subtlety and humanity of Shane Meadows’ masterpiece of the British revenge thriller genre.
Martin Compston plays Joe, a socially inept, near-agoraphobic loner. When Joe’s beloved brother John (Neil Maskell) is murdered after a pub dispute escalates, Joe is left distraught and without his only real connection to the rest of the world. That is until Piggy (Paul Anderson), an old friend of John’s, comes along and promises to help Joe enact vengeance on those responsible for his brother’s death.
The premise is interesting, if not wholly original. The execution, however, falls short of expectation. In Martin Compston, Paul Anderson and Neil Maskell the film contains three good British actors who despite turning in decent performances cannot stop the film from falling apart. In a revenge film the nature of the revenge scenes is always going to be vital but Piggy manages to get it all wrong.
The opening scenes set up John’s murderers as truly hateful characters. A good start. Then we never see the gang again until they are murdered. No flash back to remind the audience of anyone’s involvement in the murder, no scenes that show the gang in any other way. When it comes to the execution scenes it is hard to make a connection between the repetitive violence and John’s murder. The execution sequences, like the rest of the film, are stylishly shot, but are few and far between. Low-key violence is the order here except for one glaring exception: Piggy’s “head stomping” scene. Piggy repeatedly jumps on the head of one victim until nothing is left above the neck; a scene so preposterously over the top, that it is out of sync with the rest of violence in the film.
To top it off Piggy is set to a morose, stern and boring score which embeds the film to a serious tone that it could do without. Joe only has serious conversations with people, Joe’s walks to work are serious. Joe takes practical jokes from his colleagues too seriously, Joe takes his five minute old relationship with Claire too seriously. Joe even manages to make frying an egg look like serious business. Joe’s life is full of seriousness but his relationships are not believable enough to create any emotional investment in the drama that surrounds him.
All of this builds into a third act that finally ends any promise the film may have had. The big reveal and subsequent climactic moment may have looked clever and thought-provoking on paper but on screen they both fail to make sense and are so turgidly bound by the repetitive violence and pithy dialogue that there is no impact at the film’s conclusion. Joe’s descent into Piggy’s animalistic world is so sudden that it doesn’t really make sense. The final scene skips on the ultimate act of redemption, an ending that fails to come across as a satsisfying end to the film because of the films lacking in other departments.
Piggy is well directed and well acted but cannot overcome a poorly written and idealised story. It begs of you to take it seriously but it is this over seriousness that is it’s own undoing. Not enough violence to be considered exploitative torture-porn and not enough dramatic tension or plot to be considered a good thriller. Paul Anderson is engaging and interesting as Piggy but one performance cannot plaster over the cracks that show throughout this film. A squealing “meh”.
Running Time : 102 mins
Rating : 18
Special Features :
Interview with Kieron Hawkes
Interview with Martin Compston
Interview with Paul Anderson
Making of PIGGY .