JUNE 29, 2012
I can usually sleep pretty easily on an airplane, especially during an overnight flight (i.e. a time when I’d be sleeping anyway), but this early morning was an exception – I maybe dozed for about 40 total minutes for my entire 5+ hour flight to New York, thanks in part to the restless girl next to me, who insisted on using my shoulder (and the guy by the window) as a headrest (or footrest during his turn as human pillow). Any time I started dozing she’d kick me or trap my arm by moving again, so I was never able to join her in slumberland. Nor was I able to watch Squeal on the plane as originally planned, because I was worried if I got out of my seat to get my portable player she would just overtake it entirely.
But maybe she was just doing me a favor, making me save it for my hotel room where I’d at least be more comfortable as I suffered through the damn thing, and be spared of the embarrassment I’d surely suffer from had anyone on the plane looked my way and saw a grown man not only watching but TAKING NOTES for a movie about killer pig-men, instead of, well, sleeping.
The main problem with Squeal is the fact that it delivers on the promise of its title; the characters spend the first half whining and yelling at each other, and then the second half screaming at the tops of their lungs during the endless “chase” part of the movie, where our three pig-men (well, one’s a pig-woman) villains display their complete lack of an objective by kidnapping some of them, killing others, kidnapping some and then killing them… at first it seems they might want to eat them or whatever, but then the littlest pig-man just slashes two of them to death at once, which I’d think would severely diminish their appeal as dinner.
It’s possible that they HAD real plans for them but just didn’t want to deal with them anymore, because they are the most hateful group of people I’ve seen in quite some time. The biggest offender is Travis, who is a typical horror movie asshole – being a complete prick long before he had any reason to be on edge, begging for help when things go bad, and leaving the others to die when he has the opportunity to help. Naturally, it takes forever to kill him, so we have to put up with his bullshit forever. Then again, he’s barely less tolerable than the others, who range from idiotic to obnoxious (second movie this week with a Jack Black wannabe guy). Even the film’s hero drops F-bombs with every other line, and the Final Girl is a militant vegan who pushes her agenda on everyone else, so there is literally no one here worth caring about in the slightest. The only endearing quality about any of them is that the three guys are in a band and are named Mark, Tom, and Travis, which are the names of the members of Blink 182. Hopefully the band will sue this movie for some weird form of defamation.
As for the villains, well, I’ll give them 1 point for novelty I guess. They’re (poorly explained) science experiments gone wrong, sporting pig noses and squealing instead of talking, but otherwise they just do the same sort of shit I’ve seen in a dozen or so other “kids break down and run afoul of backwoods _____” movies, instead of focusing on what made them different. Who were they before the experiment? Were they already murderous, or did the serum (?) make them crazy? What DO they eat? And why can’t any of their victims escape their flimsy chicken-wire cages?
The direction didn’t help matters any, with director Tony Swansey opting to just swing the camera around like in a found footage movie more often than not. It also seems like someone forgot to rent lights for a few shooting days, especially during the scenes where the “nice” characters poke around looking for the others (who have already been taken), sequences which are so dark it’s almost comical, considering what they are about. I assume the low lighting was a way to hide what is probably not the best makeup job in the world for the pig’s noses, but without a single well lit shot of any of the villains (and the film’s low grade digital photography doing it no favors) it’s hard to say. And far too many of the deaths are “creatively edited”, so you THINK you’re seeing something cool but you’re actually just watching a guy wave a knife around and then someone screaming from the presumed hits. Which is fine if the movie is Psycho and it’s amazing and no one is showing up to see the graphic violence, but with this sort of junk it would at least give the gorehounds a reason to stick around. Way to disappoint every type of fan.
One saving grace – the DVD doesn’t have any extra features besides the trailer, and the runtime is a mere 79 minutes. I was able to watch this thing and still have time to hit Dunkins, shower (it was like 95 in New York – forgot what humidity felt like), and finally get some sleep before heading out to see some friends I hadn’t seen in years, hoping none of them asked me what I've been up to. “So you moved 3000 miles away and now you watch movies about killer pig-men? This made sense to you?”
What say you?