Joe (Compston) is an ordinary bloke. Well, ordinary in the sense that he lives a life of mind-numbing mediocrity. Every day is a progression of the almost-same; he goes to work, he works, he ends up feeling utterly numb to life and then goes home to try and sleep.
All of that changes when his beloved brother John (Maskell) is murdered in a vicious gang attack; Joe, wracked with grief, answers the door late one night to discover Piggy (Anderson), an old friend of his brother, on his doorstep. And, under Piggy’s fraternal influence, Joe soon finds himself drawn into a dangerous world of violence, retribution and, above all, revenge…
From the word go, Piggy doesn’t feel like a typical horror; everything is rooted in an almost stifling normality. The London setting, the early-morning commute, the easy familiarity between the brothers – it all allows the audience to fall into a false sense of security. Foreshadowing quickly comes into play; a menacing group of hooded figures turn out to be a cluster of harmless tweens on hang-out duty, a terrifying mugging leaves Joe unscathed and a terrifying run-in at the local pub is almost over before it’s begun.
It’s similar to our own everyday lives; nothing bad can ever happen to us, we think optimistically. Muggings and murders belong to Crimewatch – they are something that happens to other people. So when this threat becomes a reality for Joe, it becomes one for the audience as well; could we be stabbed walking home one night? Could we be attacked just moments from our own front door? Piggy plays on our most base and real terrors… and it does so very effectively.
But then Piggy arrives and everything changes; who needs slowly growing unease when you can handcuff a man to a urinal and beat the crap outta him, anyway? This promising horror loses its edge and launches headfirst into another hard man flick, a la Harry Brown, neglecting the oh-so-innovative horror of the everyday premise it had strived to perfect in the first twenty minutes.
Unrelenting violence, ceaseless gore and buddies with a blood lust. It’s been done before and it’s been done SO much better; Piggy isn’t so much an iconic hard man flick as the hard man’s shaky-handed sidekick. A little bit like Joe, I guess. He watches, wide-eyed, as Piggy orchestrates a violent revenge upon each of the five men involved in John’s death. How many times do you have to stamp on a man’s skull before it smashes into a million pieces? Lots of times. But Piggy’s happy to do it and, as time goes by, Joe slowly ventures out from his spectator role and into that of the perpetrator.
Piggy’s unpredictable nature will have you trying (and failing) to second-guess his actions and motives the entire way through. Who is this man? How honest is he being with Joe? And why is he so hell-bent on helping him wreak a bloody revenge? The questions are ceasless and the answers are, irritatingly, nowhere to be found; it’s a little bit like if The Sixth Sense hadn’t included the “Bruce Willis is a ghost” bit.
In short, this horror begins strongly, but quickly falls into a tired plot structure. Gangster-style revenge? Been there, done that, bought the ‘I Saw A Guy Richie Film’ t-shirt. It’s a shame, as Piggy began with so much promise.
Then again, whaddaya expect from a film with a shit name like Piggy, eh?