This is what independent horror filmmaking is all about!! Long Pigs is the story of two struggling filmmakers who happen upon a cannibalistic serial killer who gives them full permission to document his life and “practice.” This is filmed as a real documentary might be filmed, giving it a degree of authenticity.
Our killer Anthony, played by Anthony Alviano, is deceiving. At first you think Anthony is the result of really bad miscasting by writer-directors Nathan Hynes and Chris Power. But then you realize what Hynes and Power are doing: They aren’t going for a Silence of the Lambs or Se7en rip off here. They’re telling the story of a killer who is the “everyday guy”; the guy you play hockey with, go out for a couple of beers with, and who holds down a job and has friends. The story is tight, well-paced, and has excellent and realistic dialogue. There is also some really good editing going on here (by Chris Power); he intercuts footage of Anthony, a police officer they interview (convincingly played by Shane Harbinson), their interview with a criminal psychologist, and radio host Tony Prince (Roger King). Through creative editing Hynes and Power juxtapose the characteristics and traits of “standard” serial killers with those of Anthony. This is how we come to realize that Anthony isn’t your typical killer and why he’s eluded the authorities for so long.
Anthony doesn’t kill for sexual release, out of anger, because he was abused as a young boy, or because he has “mommy issues”. Anthony kills because he likes to eat human flesh. It’s that simple. As Anthony himself explains, “This is all just culinary.” He’s a rational, intelligent, everyday kinda guy who approaches his murderous activity with a level head and even has an entire “cannibal philosophy” he lives by. Depending on what he wants to eat that night, he’ll kill a particular kind of person. We join him as he hunts for the perfect body type to make stew (a fat prostitute). He explains that he doesn’t even enjoy killing or cleaning the bodies. It’s just a job that must be done. He approaches his work the same way you and I would approach making an omelet; it’s no different from cracking eggs.
This may all sound like it’s played for dark humor or even camp, but Hynes and Power play this straight and it works (I was shocked to see that bloody-disgusting.com calls this a horror-comedy. It’s clearly not). The success of Long Pigs (the title comes from the term human flesh is given on the Marquesas Islands in Polynesia) rests solely on actor Anthony Alviano’s shoulders. He hits all the right notes as the rational killer. It doesn’t even seem like he’s acting here; he’s a real natural. The dialogue feels “real” and not forced; it actually sounds like something a real person would say.
There are two notable scenes here: The first is when Anthony and the filmmakers take a tour of a pig farm and slaughter house. This really makes you think, “Is there really a difference between slaughtering pigs and humans?” But it’s the second scene where things take a chilling turn: Anthony talks about the one time he killed a child (a 7 year old girl) just because he wanted to see how young flesh tasted compared to older flesh. He said it was a onetime deal because killing a child draws too much attention and he doesn’t wanna risk it again. The filmmakers then decide to interview Merle (Paul Fowles), the father of the girl Anthony killed and ate. They even bring Anthony along and he poses as the boom-mic operator. It’s a powerful scene watching Merle plead for the return of his daughter as we see Anthony in the background. You’ll get chills running up and down your spine as they are leaving and Anthony shakes Merle’s hand. You’ll need a shower after that scene.
Once aspect that I would’ve liked to have seen examined in more detail was the relationship between Anthony and the filmmakers. They filmmakers clearly cross the line and are accessories to Anthony’s criminal acts. But we never delve deeper into this relationship.
And the f/x? I was really surprised how well-done the f/x are considering the modest budget. You can see this is a very low budget flick, but Hynes and Power manage to present some fantastic f/x. In one scene we watch as Anthony hangs, bleeds out, and then butchers one of his victims. Very realistic looking!! It’s no wonder; Chris Bridges did the f/x. You’ve seen his work in 2004’s Dawn of the Dead; 2006’s Silent Hill, Saw III, and 300; and 2007’s Dairy of the Dead.
Long Pigs is one of those indie horror finds that don’t come around too often. From the acting and dialogue to the cinematography and special f/x, this is a winner. It’s gotten some well-deserved exposure at festivals winning several key awards (“Best Picture” at the Moving Image festival in Toronto; “Best Picture” and “Best Actor” at the Mockfest festival in L.A; and “Best Horror” at the International Horror & Sci-Fi Fest in phoenix to name a few). Check this one out; it’ll make you re-evaluate your neighbors!!
Directors: Nathan Hynes & Chris Power (& writers & editors)
Plot: 4 out of 5 stars
Gore: 6.5 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer