Pig Hunt DVD Review
Written by Steve Pattee
DVD released by Phase 4 Films
You boys ready to see how the other half lives? – John
Directed by Jim Isaac
Written by Robert Mailer Anderson and Zack Anderson
2008, Region 1 (NTSC), 99 minutes, Rated R
DVD released on September 28th, 2010
Travis Aaron Wade as John Hickman
Tina Huang as Brooks
Howard Johnson as Ben
Trevor Bullock as Quincy
Rajiv Shaw as Wayne
Jason Foster as Jake
Nick Tagas as Ricky
Bryonn Bain as Hippie Stranger
Charlie Musselwhite as Charlie
Les Claypool as Preacher
Generally, when I review a movie I'm not familiar with, I tend to try not to read the back cover or look at any trailers until after I've watched the movie. This is so I don't have any expectations of the film I'm about to watch, as many times a trailer will spoil something, or the synopsis on the back is not accurate of what the film is about. So, in essence, I usually have the front cover to go by for expectations. So, when I looked at the cover of Pig Hunt and saw a gigantic beast of a boar standing on a pile of human bones, I expected the movie to be about, you know, a killer boar. Well, it kind of was, even though you don't see the big bacon until the last 10 minutes of the film — and even then you don't really see the whole thing, just its head — and it only kills one person on screen.
Pig Hunt really lives up to the "you can't judge a book by its cover" saying, so if the big pig in the title card plays second, or even third, fiddle, what the hell is the movie about? Well, that's complicated. A group of friends decide to head up to John's (Travis Wade) uncle's cabin for a weekend of hunting. It's supposed to be a guys only weekend, but John brings along his honey bunny, Brooks (Tina Huang). She obviously doesn't dig the hunting, so the only purpose of her character is to create conflict within the group. As John hasn't been to the family cabin in many years, they pull off to a convenience shop for directions, where they meet a group of hippies, the leader of which (Bryonn Bain) demonstrates a big attitude and a bigger knife to the hunters. After some threats are made from both sides, the hunting party heads on its merry way.
They find the cabin with no problems, crash out for the night and are awakened the next morning by a couple of the locals, who could be straight out of Deliverance. Turns out John knows them from when he was a boy, and there is a bad history alluded to, but never developed. John reluctantly agrees to let the two join the group on their expedition to kill some boars, but it's a strained relationship at best. Long story short: one of the hillbillies gets capped by our protagonists, revenge is sought out by the rest of the trailer-dwelling family and somehow the hippies get worked into this mix. And somewhere, in the middle of this mess of a movie, there's supposed to be a giant hog.
If it isn't clear by now, the biggest problem Pig Hunt has is that it's never clear what type of movie it wants to be. It's not a monster movie, as the box cover suggests, because you never really see a monster. It's not a hillbilly horror, since not enough time is spent on that particular storyline for you to care about anyone involved. And I have no idea why the hippies are there, but since that little coven delivers all of the nudity, I'll completely let it slide. It's frustrating, because if the filmmakers had taken the time to develop any of the multiple plots they had going, instead of forcing as much as they could into one movie, Pig Hunt would have been a damn decent flick. Instead, there's a whole bunch of expectation that is never quite lived up to.
The pacing is a big issue, as well. So much time is spent on nothing happening. You know how in Open Water, there's a lot of chitchat that doesn't accomplish anything as far as character development? It's like that here, except instead of in the ocean waiting for a shark, you are in the woods waiting for Wilbur. There's a shit ton of back and forth between all of the players, but nothing is gained from it — they're just constantly taking jabs at one another. This might work in a buddy road trip movie, but here it just creates another flaw in the film. Who are the hippies? What is the big deal between John and the rednecks? Where is the fucking pig?
Two things that save the film from utter disaster are the performances and the effects. While there is some over-acting from a few of the co-stars, the main characters are quite solid. Travis Wade is the stand-out here as the strong-but-silent lead. The character seems to have some inner-demons he's fighting — again, never fully developed — but Wade is able is add a mystery to John that makes you want to know more about the character.
While there's not a lot of gore in Pig Hunt, the effects team should be applauded for the grue that is. Their biggest win, though, is the work on the boar, when you finally get to see it. Wisely, the full beast is only shown in quick shots (as I have a feeling it would not stand to some lingering), but the head — what you see the most of — is believable enough.
Director Jim Isaac's prior two films to Pig Hunt were Skin Walkers and Jason X. I am unapologetic for how much I enjoyed Jason X, but Skin Walkers was another film that, while a fantastic idea, failed in execution. Pig Hunt falls somewhere in the middle of those two films, but, like Skin Walkers, it's another missed opportunity.
Video and Audio:
Presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, Pig Hunt is a middle of the road presentation. It's a bit soft at times (in particular the darker scenes), but overall it's average with this type of movie.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 is underused for the majority of the film, but it does kick in towards the end of the film in a very cool scene that almost makes up for what's lacking throughout the rest of the film. Once I heard what the mix was capable of, I was a little disheartened the use of rears and sides wasn't applied to the rest of the movie.
- Director/Producer Commentary
- "On the Hunt" Featurette
- Boonville Stomp Music Video
The commentary is hit and miss, bouncing between "I really like this part" and interesting behind-the-scenes tidbits.
The "On the Hunt" featurette runs about 42 minutes and consists of on-set interviews, cast and crew poking fun at one another and dialogue free shots of scenes getting setup and the effects team at work. This isn't your stereotypical fluff piece and is worth the watch.
Click cover to purchase.