Come on in, the water's meaty...
Dir. Nathan Hynes and Chris Power, Canada, 81 mins
Found footage has certainly been a mixed blessing for the horror genre – while it has enabled a wide range of movies to be made that once upon a time would have been impossible, some of which use the device very effectively, it has also seen a slew of pretty poor movies and also become what I would argue is a pretty tired cliché. With all that said, there are certainly a few I've liked – Skew and Exhibit A chief among them – and over the next few weeks I'll be taking a look at some extreme examples of found footage horror, kicking off with the 2007 Canadian offering, Long Pigs.
It'll be no surprise from the title that this one is all about cannibalism, and is a mockumentary that follows serial killer Anthony McAlister as he kills, butchers and proceeds to eat his victims. While there are some gruesome moments, there wasn't any sense of things becoming overly gratuitous – indeed as the film wore on I found myself very much interested in the character and the life that he had led. This is one of those movies that, for me, does a good job with the milieu of found footage – it keeps the visuals and the story very simple, it lets the action play out in front of the camera with a believable mixture of 'up close and personal' moments as well as longer shots and also gives a neo-explanation for what we are seeing in the shape of interviews with the police and behaviour analysts. Emotionally it certainly goes beyond what I had expected also, with the moment in which McAlister's mother dies packing a surprising punch and another very powerful scene where the camera crew – with Anthony in tow – go to visit the father of one of the cannibal's female victims.
While it's not a splatterfest, the effects on the whole look very good and the subject material remains pretty disturbing without it 'just' being a film about cannibalism – we see more to the central character and – dare I say – our lead becomes almost likeable. There are parts of the story that feel a little off – Anthony's relationship with his best friends never really seems to ring true to me – and the ending is pretty telegraphed, but I feel like this was among the better found footage horror films that I've seen. It's sparse and bare bones, and I think very often that can work to the favour of the subgenre – if you have the story and character to back it up. While neither were flawless, I was certainly engaged and interested all the way through.
RATING: 7.5/10. Good found footage movies tend to play to the strengths of the concept, and I feel Long Pigs does just that. It's presented as a documentary, which means it can shoot straight and doesn't necessarily move story forward in a linear fashion – which makes it feel more like real life. There are quieter spells, but in these we get to know our lead better and develop a picture of a cannibal in a more rounded way. Splice that in with scenes that do offer variety from the 'let's follow a killer with a camera' and you have a pretty likeable mix all told. So it's a very solid 7.5/10 from me.