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Pig Hunt
cast: Travis Aaron Wade, Tina Huang, Jason Foster, and Howard Johnson Jr

director: James Isaac

103 minutes (18) 2008
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Momentum DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 5/10
reviewed by Jim Steel
Take hefty borrowings from Razorback, Deliverance, and Mad Max 2, add a pinch of Southern Comfort, mix it all together and see how it smokes. It's not the most original film of the year, but is it enjoyable? Despite a slow start and a continual fight with a small budget, the answer is a qualified yes.

But you have to plod through the start, which is not at all promising. John Hickman (Travis Aaron Wade) is going on a wild pig hunt with his three friends and, much to their annoyance, his girlfriend, Brooks (Tina Huang), decides to tag along for the weekend. Besides John and Brooks, there is Ben (Howard Johnson Jr), an urban type with more attitude than sense; Quincy (Trevor Bullock), an overweight softy who even wears a makin' bacon t-shirt as a directorial homage to Deliverance; and the quiet Wayne (Rajiv Shah) who is so underdeveloped as a character that we'll just refer to him as 'casualty number one'. There are also constant mentions to Iraq (the new Vietnam), but that subtext is so confused that it is rendered inert. The real seed for this film comes from all of those hogzilla-type photographs that kept turning up a few years ago, and Pig Hunt is nothing more (or less) than a monster movie.

Our happy band are heading out to the California woods ("I can't get reception on my cell phone any more!") to hunt some wild boar near a place that used to be owned by John's Uncle. John's Uncle went whacko and probably killed himself, but that's pretty irrelevant. There are also constant rumours of a 3,000lb monster called the Ripper, which we know exists for sure because a) a horse is gobbled up at the start, leaving nought but its tethered head, and b) this is a film about a giant pig. Along the way the way they bump into some creepy hippies (this is California, after all) and John's old redneck neighbours. Unlike the struggling actors who fill the rest of the roles, the rednecks seem like the genuine article and they are truly worrying people. Two of them, Jake (Jason Foster) and Ricky (Nick Tagas), who know John from way back, invite themselves along as guides. And the film continues to plod on through the woods at a pace that is almost an unfortunate parody of cinéma vérité. When is this dang pig going to appear and start munching on people, we cry. Look! Through the trees! Those are enclosed fields! All they will have to do is run downhill for a bit to get to safety - if anything ever threatens them, that is. What time is it? Is the pub still open?

Then they come across a massive marijuana plantation hidden in the woods and Jake and Ricky immediately set about filling their boots, much to the consternation of the others who want to call the police. Confrontation and violence erupts and soon our split-up townies are fleeing from a psychotic clan of rednecks. Suddenly the film is tense, exciting and scary. The hippies return in a haze of toplessness and hash, but they are not as idyllic as they seem to be. (Clue - industrial-scale marijuana production...) Soon there is a three-cornered ding-dong in full swing, and it is a testament to the massive increase in both tempo and general wackiness that it is quite possible for the viewer to forget about the Ripper. But, of course, the Ripper makes an appearance eventually, straining the credibility of the budget to bursting point. No ropey CGI here; this is pure, old-school prosthetics at its cheapest. And it works, in its cheesy way, despite (or, more probably, because of) the viewer never getting a clear look at the beast.

Aside from Pig Hunt's trailer, there are no extras on the disc apart from a few trailers for other films; one of which features a pig-man and is particularly well targeted.

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