Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Bullying soars to dizzying heights in Spanish horror/thriller, Piggy. After debuting earlier in the year at Sundance, it was quickly swooped up by Magnolia Pictures for theatrical distribution—it is not hard to see why. Channeling the best elements of the coming-of-age genre, Piggy presents an unconventional revenge/slasher splatter flick with heart. The fact that it also easily doubles as a complex character study, and presents huge moral questions, is a testament to the lead performance from Laura Galan, and the creative script from writer/director Carlota Pereda. For those who crave cerebral torment and complex characterization, Piggy proves to have more than enough tasty bacon to go around.

Sara (Galan) is the definition of a social outcast. She hunts with her father for sport, and works with both her parents at the family butcher. Surrounded by the buzzing of flies and hanging bloody carcasses on a daily basis, Sara becomes a magnet for ridicule and torment. She pines from afar after a cute guy rippling with muscles named Pedro (José Pastor), and laments a life outside the confinement of solitude. One particularly bitchy girl snaps a photo of Sara, her mother, and father together at the shop and captions it with: “the three little pigs.” Sara’s relationship with the awful local girls culminates in a cruel confrontation at the local swimming pool. 

The group, which includes Sara’s former best friend, Claudia (Irene Ferreiro), taunt Sara, calling her “piggy” and oinking at her. A bulky man that jumps in the water and swims for a bit gets referred to as “the fatso’s boar.” The girls toss a net onto Sara’s head and steal her towel, leaving Sara exposed and upset. As Sara makes the long trek home, despicable men catcall her on the highway. When she crosses paths with the man from the watering hole once more, he has loaded up the awful bullies in a van, and appears to be taking them away to their deaths! Sara makes direct eye contact with the strange man, waving her approval even as she pisses herself in fear. He drives off with Claudia screaming in the back for help.

After this explosive introduction to the action, Piggy pumps the breaks significantly in order to get us into Sara’s headspace. Sara faces guilt over her complicit behavior in the disappearance of the girls, haunted by Claudia’s screams. She is forced to lie to everyone around her, including her suspicious mother. In a weird way, this experience awakens something inside of Sara, a strong will she did not previously possess. She smokes weed with Pedro, masturbates under the covers to porn from her brother’s phone, and lies when confronted about being at the pool with the other girls. The strange man seems to almost become Sara’s bulky protector, but is much more dangerous than he appears.

As Piggy barrels into an exciting climax, Carlota Pereda doubles down on themes of strength and moral ambiguity. As far as provocative, exciting horror goes, this is cream of the crop. Overall, I would still say Piggy seems a bit rough around the edges, but that only amplifies its nearly irresistible charms. Sprinkling in a coming-of-age aspect, Sara is relatable to anyone who has ever been bullied before. Speaking to the outsider in us all, Piggy is one prime cut of indie horror meat.

Piggy calls for its pounds of flesh when it releases _.

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