E1 Entertainment // 2008 // 80 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // September 3rd, 2010
A Twisted Tale Of Horror!
Whenever a film suffers a protracted release it triggers alarm bells in my head; experience dictates that something has gone very wrong somewhere along the line. So when I found out that Squeal had done the rounds at a couple of indie film-festivals way back in 2008, I was obviously concerned we had a real stinker on our hands. Coupled with that, the internet, usually a place where even the least known of movies can find a rabid fan base, is distinctly lacking in information for director Tony Swansea's directorial debut.
Fast forward the 80-minutes it took to watch the flick, and I can safely assure you that the reasons for Squeal's delay in coming to DVD shouldn't be your primary concern. In fact, the only question you need to ask yourself to decide whether Squeal is for you or not is this: have you ever wanted to see a little mutant-piggy fornication? I know I have.
Starring a cast of unknowns, and helmed by a first time director, Squeal fails on a number of the fundamental elements of good filmmaking. The screenplay is often clumsy and hackneyed beyond belief. An early exchange on the rights and wrongs of eating meat is such an obvious signpost for what is to come that it feels cheap even in a B-movie like this. Likewise, attempts at throwing in a few pop culture references, including a stoner's exaltation of Casey Kasem, are strained. Onto the acting, and...look, you're watching a movie called Squeal which is about a family of homicidal man-pig hybrids, are you really expecting Oscar worthy performances or life-enhancing dialogue? Of course you're not. So it should come as no surprise when I say the acting is sub-par and there's a distinct lack of empathy felt towards the victims, especially when the screenplay is chock full of clichés that any horror buff worth their salt will see coming a mile off. And yet, despite what may be a pretty damning indictment, I have no hesitation in recommending Squeal.
Story wise, Squeal keeps things nice and simple. It seems scientists have been playing God again, this time by splicing together humans and pigs. Quite what their motivations for this bizarre procedure were remain unclear, but the consequences are obvious from the outset. Having slaughtered their creators, this family of mutants (dad, mom, and their midget son) stays holed up on a remote farm and keep to themselves, only venturing out to commit the odd murder or two. But when a rock band, on route to their latest gig, suffers a road accident, the three little piggies find themselves with visitors. Before the band members can say "not by the hairs on my chinny, chin, chin," these porcine critters have sharpened their cleavers in anticipation of a little brutality. One by one the band members are taken captive by these scientific abominations, and held in pigpens to await their brutal deaths...or worse.
Considering the film's premise, it would have been all too easy for first time writer/director Tony Swansey to resort to cheap gags to keep the viewer interested. Instead, and showing some real bravado in the process, Swansey keeps things dark and nasty; any laughs, and there are plenty to be had, come during some rather unpleasant moments. Let's be honest, none of us wants to be dry humped by a midget pig-man before being carved up and left a bloody mess, so while those of the right disposition will no doubt squeal with delight at such antics, there's no doubt they'll also find it a little disturbing. Throughout the economical 80-minute running time, Swansey manages to maintain just the right balance of horror and comedy, with flashes of dark humor only occasionally permeating the otherwise grim tone. The films final 10-minutes are particularly vicious, and are drenched in a bleak inevitability.
With only a limited budget to play with, Swansey plays it very smart with regards to special effects. Employing a similar technique to Tobe Hooper's seminal The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Swansey will often keep some of the more violent moments just out of shot, unlike Chainsaw, which is mostly free of blood-letting, Squeal does contain a healthy dollop of gore, including bodily dismemberments and entrails, lots and lots of entrails.
Despite it's rather unusual protagonists, Squeal is a rather derivative work, and yet it's so damn entertaining that the numerous faults which plague it are easily forgivable. If the idea of a midget pig-boy, decorated in clown makeup, terrorizing a couple of teenage girls before performing a bizarre magic routine sounds enticing, then you may have just found your next Friday night movie. Everyone else is probably best advised to leave Squeal on the shelf.
Presented in an anamorphic widescreen 1.78:1 transfer, Squeal contains muted colors and suffers the occasional moment of softness. But overall, the deep black levels ensure a good looking disc. The 2.0 soundtrack contains a surprisingly decent score, while dialogue is clear. The disc only contains trailers, with no further supplemental materials available.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: E1 Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 80 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Official Site