Review: Piggy

Written and directed by Carlota Pereda, 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. Starring:  Laura Galán, Richard Holmes, Carmen Machi, Irene Ferreiro, Camille Aguilar, Claudia Salas, José Pastor, Fernando Delgado-Hierro and Julián Valcárcel.

A horror film about a girl getting bullied may be something you’ve seen before but Piggy has its own original spin to bring to the table. Firstly in the sense that this is not going anywhere in the direction you might predict; this is not a traditional revenge story, it explores internal conflict, self-identity, insecurity and family. There’s elements to it that feel understated, more akin to a drama which is how it so succinctly sets up its darker, complicated and messy side. It’s constantly unravelling itself and revealing new layers, creating something that can be harsh, cruel and violent, even hard to watch at times, but also heart-breaking, complex and emotional.

A lot of which comes from the creation of Sara’s (Laura Galán) character, existing in the gap between naivety and the brutality of life. She’s more than aware of the callous, cold nature of other people but at the same time she’s lived a fairly sheltered existence, not quite knowing who to trust or where to turn. Wherein comes the messy side to this story and in that is a fascinatingly complicated arena of emotions, which easily sets Piggy apart from the crowd.

Visually it again fits that evolution of tone, starting with a grounded foundation, giving it an everyday feel before adapting to embrace the horror. It’s almost immediately gripping but has a stunning growing intensity to its atmosphere which genuinely pulls you to the edge of your seat. It has a superb habit of directing you where you think it’s going to go then turning the tables. The tension is utterly satisfying, as it moves forward the cinematography becomes darker and richer to push that atmosphere further. It brings in a note of chaos which it manages to hold impressively consistently throughout its second half. Carlota Pereda rises to the horror challenge but at the same time gives her directorial style a basis of realism and grit. Part of the success in how engaging it is, is that it never escapes the realm of reality, the situation may be (thankfully) highly unlikely but the choices its characters make, and how Pereda presents their perspective, feels utterly real.

Its realistic personality is in no small part thanks to the outrageously vulnerable and complex performance from Laura Galán. While there is a sincerely wonderful and talented cast supporting her, this is her moment to shine. It feels as though Galán holds absolutely nothing back, she presents Sara to us with such a complicated and full persona. She draws you into this character with ease, you’re instantly glued to what’s going to happen to her, diving into a battle between light and dark. You’re grabbed by the authenticity and depth that she brings but what takes Galán’s performance to an even higher level is how it opens up in the latter stages of the film. She brings in a whole new side to Sara as her horrific, eye-opening experience changes her outlook, it’s fantastic to watch.

Piggy is a delightfully gripping, original horror with genuine layers and surprises. It sets you off on this dark journey with harsh and difficult to watch drama as Sara repeatedly experiences cruelty, which is the perfect set up for the violence and mayhem in store. It’s led by a stellar performance from Laura Galán, she’s not a newcomer but hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot more from her after how far she hit this one out of the park. It’s absolutely packed with tension and conflict while doing an excellent job of balancing that with all the elements you could want from a horror film.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯ | 8/10

Coming to UK cinemas from 6 January

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