PIG HUNT - A Dirthead Gothic
Yep, that's what writer/producer calls his first film collaboration with director Jim Isaac. A Dirthead Gothic. This is a bulls-eye accurate description of PIG HUNT.
Part DELIVERENCE, or GATOR BAIT, if you realllly want to go there. Part JAWS, or RAZORBACK, if you realllly want to go there again. And part RETURN OF THE SECAUCUS SEVEN, which if you've never been there you realllly should go.
This would be the easiest way to reference PIG HUNT to fellow movie geeks. You have crazy ass rednecks, hellbent on revenge. You have a crazy ass creature, roaming wild and lethal, unseen by it's victims until it's too late. You have a kinda crazy-ass group of good friends, together for a weekend getaway of partying, and maybe even a little soul searching.
More review and a trailer after the break!
PIG HUNT opens with a bang! of a chase and kill scene (again, akin to JAWS, or RAZORBACK if you still realllly want to go there), then pulls back to San Francisco where we are introduced to John (Travis Aaron Wade), his sweet-as-candy but tough-as-nails girlfriend Brooks (featuring Tina Huang in what I call The Ripley Role) and their group of 20-something friends (enlisted man Ben played by Howard Johnson Jr., chubby dork Quincy played by Trevor Bullock, and laid back Wayne played by Rajiv Shah) as they head off to a cabin in upper Northern California that belonged to John's recently (and mysteriously) deceased uncle. It's a simple plan. Do some hunting, drink some beer, and get in some quality time with buddies while enjoying the great outdoors. But, simple plans don't always work out as simply as they should. The problem being, shit happens.
While getting provisions at a qauint little general store, the local merchant (played by blues legend Charlie Musselwhite in a cameo) tells the city slickers of The Ripper, warning them of a legendary 3000lb. killer-hog that is said to stalk the surrounding forrests and mountains. Meanwhile, outside, John and girlfriend Brooks are having their first encounter with a local cult leader/hippie guru (played by Bryonn Bain, in one of the films stand-out performances) who happens to wield a vicious gurkha blade,and has the skills to use it. Not to mention, drives a plush and pimpin' bad ass pussy wagon of a van, fully stocked with a posse of weed smoking stoned out siren women piled up inside.
But all is not well between our Nameless Hippie leader and John and his crew. What follows could euphemistically be called a tense exchange, which ends up resulting in Ben pulling his new hand cannon of a gun on the cultists. As they cut a hasty retreat and head on their way to the cabin, back on the road, they end up passing through an area overrun by the local clan of hardcore bible thumpin', gun totin' rednecks (one of them being Primus frontman Les Claypool in another of the films cool cameos) where John sees a couple of familiar faces. Childhood buddies, grown into people nothing like himself. Instead, they have now fully bloomed into perfect copies of the ignorant, inbred, violent hickazoids that their father-brother's were before them, and their cousin-sons will be after them. Secretive and perverse, this is a land of compounds, barbed wire, and cotton gins. Not a land of acreage spreading out to become fields of lillies, with country neighbors that bring over fresh baked bread and vegetables picked from their garden. Here you're on your own, with your own.
Upon arriving at the cabin they discover it is gated and locked, the area within being closer to a taxidermist's museum than a place for a weekend getaway. Finding the cabin too filthy to sleep in, the crew pitch their tents, and camp outside for the night. In the morning, John and Brooks are woken up by his old running partners, the rednecks from his childhood. Black toothed, and meth snorting, brothers Jake and Ricky (played by Jason Foster and Nick Tagas, in another couple of stand out performances) pop up, out of John's past, to insinuate themselves into his present, and into his hunting party. Here is where the film really starts to pop into gear and get fun. Without giving too much away, what follows is a grim comedy-of-terrors involving a found pot crop, a semi-accidental shooting, a frenzied mountain clan riding for revenge on some of the meanest machinery to kick-up dirt since The Road Warrior, a sick-ass giant killer hog monster called The Ripper that wants to eat everything in it's path, and a final battle that's all about the mud and the blood and the slimy Pigfoot drool. There's a nifty little Apacolypse Now nod here too, that tickled my geek spot right good!
This brings me to what I like about PIG HUNT so much. Yes, it is referential at times, and can be an homage here and there. But at the same time, PIG HUNT somehow avoids being derivative. In a time when remakes, redux's, re-imaginings, and other "re" termed flicks are really just lazy clutter, suffocating an already creatively blue-in-the-face movie market about to keel over from self-inflicted asphyxiation, PIG HUNT is an original concept. In a place where films clamor to have "that 70's feel", or "that 80's feel", strive to be extreme, and/or are over eager to be labeled a "cult" film, PIG HUNT totally manages to do it's own thing. Ironically, PIG HUNT achieves an honest to goodness modern cult feel by not having a bunch of creative white-noise. PIG HUNT eschews computer generated film scratches, and other silly, overused digital FX toys. The film doesn't neccesariy grab at that "grindhouse" or "cult flick" vibe, at least outright in a visual sense. Instead, PIG HUNT seems to be about letting the cast, the script, and the direction speak for itself. Adobe After Effects is not the star here. Nor, is even the bad ass practical effects juggernaut of a swine that is The Ripper.
The story is the star.
Director Jim Isaac (JASON X/SKINWALKERS) and writer/producer Robert Mailer Anderson (author of the best selling novel BOONVILLE) have concocted a fun, moderatly-budgeted flick that could have been written by John Sayles during his PIRANHA/THE CHALLENGE/THE HOWLING period, and played on a double feature with THE CAR back in the summer of '78. That's a big "Fuck yeah!" coming from me. A mighty big "Fuck yeah!" at that.
Now, know this - PIG HUNT starts off at a slow burn and takes it's time introducing us to the characters, and getting them on their way to the action. While I often say this is a good thing, with PIG HUNT it seems to take a bit for the actors to step completely into their roles, and to start really chewing some scenery. Not perfect by any stretch, but a truly welcomed and entertaining film with a lot of heart and originality. I sincerely look forward to the next effort from the creative team of Anderson and isaac. PIG HUNT deserves to someday be in every discerning horror/action/genre fan's collection. There's too much to like, warts n' all. It ends up being quite a fun little ride on the ole' movie roller-coaster, where the wheels are all greased up with popcorn butter and red, red blood.
I've said "True cult films aren't made... they happen."
And I say PIG HUNT is happening.