The Horror Zine Review
A Film by Mark Stolaroff and Henry Barrial
Director: Henry Barrial
A Film by Mark Stolaroff and Henry Barrial
Review by Scott Urban
Some movies you settle in to watch with no more expectation other than that they will provide a visual distraction while you stuff your face with buttery popcorn. There’s nothing wrong with that; I’m an ardent devotee of Z-grade movies you can throw your popcorn at.
But sooner or later, your cinematic palate craves something a bit more substantial—something along the lines of Nolan’s Memento, del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, or Gondry’s The Science of Sleep; something that demands you sit up, put the greasy bucket down, and freakin’ pay attention. These directors deliberately play with your expectations: they lead you down one road, and viewers anticipate the plot will play out one way (because it always has before)—and then whiplash—they introduce a twist out of left field that feels as if the director has smacked you a good one upside the noggin.
The major studios haven’t released anything along the latter lines so far this year, so thank heaven for writer/director Henry Barrial, who fills the void with Pig.
In Pig, The Man (played by Rudolf Martin) comes back to consciousness with a black hood over his head and his hands zip-tied behind his back. He discovers he’s in the middle of the desert. The Man finds a sharp-edged rock and uses it to laboriously cut through the zip-tie, which looks like a painful process I never want to go through myself. Thirsty, stumbling, he tries to find his way back to civilization. He pulls a wadded-up piece of paper out of his pocket on which is written the name ‘Manny Elder.’ Is he Manny Elder, or is it the name of his would-be executioner?
Shortly thereafter, The Man finds himself in the care of Isabelle (played by Heather Ankeny) and her young son Papo. Isabelle helps bring him back to health and offers him emotional support. Her husband was killed by the police because he ran drugs, so there’s room for The Man in her life.
For The Man, unexpected and shocking glimpses of his past frighten and disorient him. He can’t stop wondering what sort of connection he might have to the enigmatic Manny Elder. Finally he decides he has to travel to Los Angeles in a last-ditch odyssey to follow up the one slim clue he has to revealing his past.
While yes, it’s true, a protagonist with amnesia could be one of those clichéd plot devices we’ve seen perhaps too often; this film manages to be different. There actually is something else at work in Pig. The conclusion, when it arrives, is dramatic, satisfying, and could even warrant a second viewing to see how the pieces of the puzzle fit in place.
Rudolf Martin’s acting is truly outstanding in this film. I have seen and can recommend his earlier feature, the cult favorite Dark Prince, about the early life of Vlad Tepes/Dracula. And in Pig, his performance is just as good.
Martin has the unenviable task of portraying a man without context, a man who has no solid facts about his past. As he pursues his quest, he is increasingly unsettled and disturbed by what he finds out about himself. To put yourself in his shoes, you would have to imagine a friend describing a heinous crime and then accusing you of being the culprit—and you having no memory of it.
Heather Ankeny is also commendable in her role as the slightly mysterious Isabelle, and the viewer has to wonder: if she was married to someone else before—why does she have a photograph of The Man?
Pig benefits from having its inception in an actual news story Barrial read about the CIA imprisonment of a German citizen of Lebanese descent who, after having been held in captivity for six months, is ‘renditioned’ to Albania. The suspect, who was no more a terrorist than Barack Obama, found himself bound and blindfolded in a country where he couldn’t even speak the language. When he finally arrived back home, he discovered his wife had despaired of ever seeing him again and had started her life over again elsewhere. Barrial began to wonder: what if someone in the United States were placed in that position? What would that person’s reaction be?
And there is good reason for its film festival success. Barrial’s Pig is a thoughtful meditation on consciousness and being, developed as a suspenseful search for self. Consider for a moment: what is it that makes you, you? Is it your physical appearance? Is it the contents of your mind? How much do your friends and family members know the real you?
Highly recommended, Pig will have you considering these and other ramifications long after the credits have rolled. Keep an eye out for this one, because it deserves to appear in a theater near you.
See the movie here:
About the Producer
Mark Stolaroff is an independent producer and the co-founder of Antic Pictures, an LA-based production company producing a slate of low budget, high quality digital features. He is also the founder of No Budget Film School, a unique series of classes specifically designed for the no-budget filmmaker.
His film Pig recently received its World Premiere at the Nashville Film Festival and won Best Feature Film at Sci-Fi-London, its international debut.
Stolaroff has lectured on low budget and digital filmmaking throughout the world and at many of the major film festivals and film schools. He has taught film classes at UCLA Extension, the Maine Film Workshop, and The Learning Annex and has written for Scientific American, Filmmaker, Sight & Sound, Film Festival Reporter, and Film Arts Magazine. He has been on countless filmmaking panels over the last two decades and has sat on the juries of several film festivals. He was on the Advisory Board of HBO's US Comedy Arts Film Festival and currently serves on the advisory board of Filmmakers Alliance.
Stolaroff has extensive production experience on several low budget features and shorts, including production managing the Academy Award winning short film My Mother Dreams The Satan's Disciples in New York. A native Texan, Stolaroff received his BBA from the prestigious Business Honors Program at the University of Texas in Austin and minored in Film Production, directing several 16mm shorts.
About the Director
Originally from Miami, Henry Barrial attended the University of Montana in the mid 90’s where he received a B.A. in Psychology. While in Missoula, Henry wrote and performed in several theatrical productions for the Montana Repertory Theatre and the Young Rep, including his original one-man show A Night With-In Lenny Bruce.
Upon moving to Los Angeles, he directed his first film, a short entitled The Lonelys, which played at several festivals, winning top awards at the 1999 San Francisco International Film Festival, 1999 Cleveland International Film Festival, and 1999 Method Fest. In 2001 Barrial directed and co-wrote (with Stephanie Bennett) his first feature, the ultra low-budget Some Body. Some Body premiered at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival in Dramatic Competition, and was subsequently picked up for distribution by Lot 47 Films. It was released theatrically in 2002 in fifteen cities across the U.S. including New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
In 2003 Barrial's script for a the feature True Love was selected by the exclusive Sundance Screenwriters Lab and was performed as part of the Sundance Reading Series. True Love was ultimately produced on a micro-budget and has received accolades on the festival circuit. Henry is currently writing a horror film (co-written with Casey Ristaino & Elena Fabri) called Final Girl, and is developing a sci-fi project entitled Plastic Pal.
About the Reviewer
Scott H. Urban is a freelance writer and poet living, appropriately enough, in North Carolina's Cape Fear region. His dark verse appeared in the collections Night's Voice and Skull-Job (Horror's Head Press); his most recent chapbook, Alight, from Shakin' Outta My Heart Press, appeared last summer. In collaboration with Bruce Whealton, Scott's vampire poems appear in the e-book Puncture Wounds (Word Salad Productions). His fiction has appeared in print magazines, horror anthologies, and online zines, including, most recently, Lost Worlds of Space and Time Volume 2, and The Witching Hour. With Martin H. Greenberg, he co-edited the DAW anthology The Conspiracy Files. As editor, he recently compiled Jean Jones' poetry collection The Complete Angel of Death (Skull Job Productions) and memoirist Ryan Miller's Circle of the Heart, Voices of Comfort Dreams (Elephant Showcase).