By Rose Dorgan, Third Year, English
‘It’s all over, relax’ is the line that closes Piggy (or “Cerdita”), before Sara, our main character, rides off into the distance, in a very Carrie (1976) fashion, drenched in blood. The rollercoaster which transports us here throughout the 99-minute film is one which is moving, thrilling, and, most of all, unpredictable.
What I anticipated from this film was not at all like what I was met with. Although being a horror fan myself, Piggy (2022) left me with my jaw on the floor, and it is certainly not one for the faint of heart. It is bloody, unrelenting, and presents a tangible and grisly reflection of the horrors of high school bullying.
Carlota Pereda’s feature debut follows Sara (Laura Galan), a student who is ever-haunted by her weight, and three of her peers who are relentless in her brutal taunting as she becomes attached to the cruel nickname “piggy”. Meanwhile, a prolific killer haunts the rural Spanish village in which they reside, deciding on his desire to ensure the retribution of these awful bullies.
Through a disturbingly sensual connection with this killer, Sara becomes intertwined in their abduction and is ultimately fronted with the position of power which many victims of incessant bullying may dream of: deciding their fate.
This decision may not be as linear as expected; after all, after being treated like an animal for so long, why should she not become one?
Pereda’s Cerdita began as a 2018 short feature, which encompasses the core plot points of this twisted psychological horror; this extended version certainly elevates the suspense and profundity of the tale, resulting in much more than just a revenge flick. Although the film’s gory tone is set immediately with the opening scene being set in a butcher's shop, Pereda is careful in preventing the glorification of violence toward women, or anyone for that matter.
Being one of the many who understand the looming pressure on body image for young women, Sara’s anger toward these bullies is, of course, foreseeable, but there is also a danger of creating an incitement toward violent revenge.
Piggy (2022) is close to the line, perhaps for some appearing as a sort of cautionary tale for bullies, or a tutorial for those suffering at their hands. However, more than anything, the film is a commentary on the savagery of fat-shaming – although it is certainly an overstatement, it sure does the job – and brings home the isolating experience of being defined by your appearance at such a young age.
The suspense that Pereda creates through the effective use of underscore, as well as her placement of the catalytic event so early on in the film, is very impactful, leaving me thoroughly bewildered as to what the conclusion of Piggy may entail.
Galán also plays a terrific part, as she is poignant in communicating the ruthless experiences that Sara is faced with – her performance matches the raw truthfulness of the script, which is at times difficult to watch.
Overall, Piggy epitomises the notion of the “tables being turned”, and introduces a fresh take on body horror and the cinematic depiction of bullying, revealing a much deeper and darker layer of the human capacity. The moral conundrums which arise as a result of this are emphatic: Do even the most horrific of bullies deserve to be forgiven? And what about bystanders, are they just the same? What would you do?
Featured Image: Courtesy of Sundance Institute & Rita Noriega on IMDB
Will you be watching Pereda's directorial debut Cerdita?