Stream to Scream: “PIG HUNT”
As many fright fans already know, FANGORIA offers a great selection of gruesome movies, old and new, for free at our Hulu channel. To give you a better idea of what’s available, FANGORIA is taking in-depth looks at some of the channel’s terrifying titles with Stream to Scream. Today: James Isaac’s Man vs. Animal flick PIG HUNT.
As the subgenre was in vogue during my formative years, animal horror stirs up a certain feeling of nostalgia within this writer. Aesthetically speaking, animal horror often mixes the conventions of the monster movie with the narrative structure of the slasher to great effect. While it’s rare that one is ever a captivating exercise in dramatic storytelling, the end result is sometimes campy but always fun scare fare.
What animal horror produces in energetic thrills is almost equal to its predictability, however. The subgenre has never been known to be too subversive, and has usually made up for this by creating likable (yet disposable) characters and/or one hell of a creature. Thanks to some truly iconic animal horror in the ’70s and ’80s, the formula is rarely tinkered with, which may be why so little of it hits multiplexes today.
James Isaac’s PIG HUNT is admirably subversive in several ways however, even if that subversion works as much for the film as it does against. The film certainly starts in recognizable territory, as PIG HUNT follows a group of friends on a pig hunting excursion who find themselves as the prey before too long. Even the characters are archetypes of the subgenre, as it includes the ‘unpredictable guide’, the ‘secretly inexperienced tough poser’, the ‘underestimated attractive woman’ and other generic potential victims. At a certain point though, the film takes an unexpected turn and the story is suddenly off into more intriguing territory.
While this keeps PIG HUNT interesting and unpredictable, the subversion also restrains the film from fulfilling its monster movie potential. Classic horror titles like JAWS may work due to the paced revelation of their monster, but PIG HUNT doesn’t reveal its glorious creature until deep within the third act. You’ll see blood and guts throughout, as PIG HUNT does pack a punch in terms of what it does show you, but it’s a shame such a well constructed beast is criminally underutilized.
PIG HUNT wrangles some excellent production value out of the talent associated. James Isaac, a genre veteran known for his creatively wealthy but tonally erratic directing efforts, creates a sweaty, tense film filled with both off-kilter twists and crowd-pleasing moments of horror. The script from Zack Anderson and Robert Mailer Anderson doesn’t show much inspiration in the way of dialogue or character development, but their understanding of the subgenre is clear. Which results in some truly excellent human horror, as well. Thanks to the glossy lens of Adam Kane and the music of David E. Russo & Les Claypool, PIG HUNT has some aesthetic flourishes that set it apart from the schlocky paint-by-numbers monster movies that audiences find on late night cable.
Despite its flaws, PIG HUNT is more fun than most monster movies and surprisingly more engaging. With solid performances from a cast of mostly unknowns and strong direction from Isaac, the film plays off expectations and lets the horror manifest organically. And rather than become too reliant on atmosphere to make up for its meager budget, PIG HUNT is instead creative with what exactly constitutes the horror and ends up both satisfying and smart.