So, this is only sort of a movie review, with attendant departures and diversions.
First of all, the movie itself. Big fun!
The premise, for those who haven’t followed one of my many links back to the Pig Hunt website and trailers, comes across as fairly cliche at first glance.
There’s the hero, John Hickman (played by Travis Aaron Wade), who is taking four of his city-dweller friends for a weekend hog hunt in the NorCal boonies. A little “misunderstanding” with some of the locals leads to armed conflict.
Shades of Southern Comfort, right?
Actually, it’s not a completely inaccurate comparison. City folk facing off against backwoods bumpkins. Subtle commentary about war and male bravado. Sexy sirens luring unsuspecting rubes to their fate. Lots of pig blood and guts. You know, all that stuff.
But Pig Hunt is no derivative rip-off. It’s definitely an original.
To begin with, there’s “The Ripper.” Oh yeah, maybe I forgot to mention the 3000 lb monster boar? Did I also mention he’s apparently being fed on human flesh, provided by the pot-growing hippie commune? Oh, I didn’t tell you about the hippies either? Probably didn’t say anything about the commune or pot fields either. Totally forgot one other thing too… John’s brought his girlfriend, Brooks (Tina Huang), along on the “guys’ weekend”, and it turns out she’s probably hauling more testosterone and machismo than anyone else in the little group. What happened to “bros up, hos down”? Dang my scattered mind!
OK, there’s a whole lot going on in this movie. Sure, there’s the expected conflict between the city guys and the rednecks. Did you expect anything else? You can see it coming a mile away, but only if you’re looking carefully. The writers, Robert Mailer Anderson and Zack Anderson toss in a couple of curveballs… not too hard to hit, but sneaky enough to make it fun.
And really, fun is what this movie is all about.
There’s humor laced throughout the story, and the acting is generally solid enough to pull it off… even when the humor is directed at the horror movie genre itself. To my eye, it wasn’t quite a spoof, but it didn’t feel like serious horror either. And that’s what really set it apart. There was slasher gore enough to satisfy the Fangoria readers, but the audience giggled at all the right places as well.
Particularly funny was the scene where Ben, played by actor Howard Johnson, wakes up in the arms of the “hippy pot sirens” to the strains of James Brown’s, “It’s a Man’s World”. (I couldn’t help flashing to the scene with the sirens in O’ Brother, Where Art Thou, but maybe that was just me.) Other laughs came on the heels of some pretty sharp one-liners, and a couple of wicked, keen caricatures.
If I had to pick out a weak link, I’d have to say it was in the character of Brooks (I can’t say if it was the actress, the direction, or the writing). She was obviously a device for conflict from the first scene, where she refers to John’s friends as, “the morons,” and that heightens when it turns out that she’s going to be on the trip with the guys. There was room to turn this into something, but it just never played as well as it could have.
She was just too bad-ass… when she inevitably did something to turn gender stereotypes on their ear, it came off as cliche rather than cool. Of course she could outshoot all of the guys (except John, of course, who spines a rattlesnake with a crossbow in the early part of the film), so when she does it, it comes off as contrived.
There are a couple of other little things that didn’t come across as strong as they might have, but nothing was severe enough to seriously dilute the entertainment value.
By the way, I can’t wrap up this review without mention of the great Les Claypool soundtrack. The weird atmosphere throughout the film was driven by Claypool’s bass line, and that unique wall of sound he dreams up. When music by other sources was used, it was perfectly selected. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the soundtrack, the Northern California scenery, and the videography were the real stars of the movie.
Oh, and the hog hunting? This is not a hunting movie. The portrayal, as it is, runs the border between neutral and mild, negative stereotypes. But a film like this is built on stereotypes, rolling over them and applying them as the plot line demands.
I went to see the film with my girlfriend, Kat, and with Holly (NorCal Cazadora). What did they think about it? We all agreed that it was a lot of fun, but I haven’t really had a chance to get Holly’s detailed opinion. Maybe we’ll see it on her blog soon.
Kat figured this one would soon be allocated to Sunday runs on the SciFi Channel, at best. Her opinion of the storyline and acting wasn’t as positive as my own. I thought it was miles better than the average SciFi Channel fodder, but not likely to see the top of the Motion Picture Academy Awards list either.
Pig Hunt is still making the independent film festival rounds, so keep an eye out. It’s worth the effort.
So there ya go… another movie review that really doesn’t tell you a thing about what the movie was really all about. So very sorry, but if all you want is a summary of the film, you can go to the Pig Hunt Movie website, or just hop over to the Internet Movie Database (IMDB). Or Google the movie and there are more reviews out there than you can read in an evening. The story has already been told… there’s no point in me doing it again.