Frightfest: Piggy (2022)

Director: Carlota Pereda

Running Time: 99 Minutes

Starring: Laura Galán, Adrian Grösser, Carmen Machi, Julián Valcárcel, José Pastor, Irene Ferreiro, Camille Aguilar, Claudia Salas

During a sweltering summer, Sara (Laura Galán) hides away in her parent's butcher shop to escape the clique of girls constantly mocking her weight. After they torment her at the local pool, a mysterious stranger kidnaps the mean girls before Sara stumbles upon the scene. As she and the stranger see each other, a wordless pact indicates they won't betray each other.

Based on her 2018 short of the same name, writer/director Carlota Pereda expands on her uncomfortably real tale of bullying into a feature-length runtime. Galán reprises the lead role, exceptionally inhabiting the teen victimised by her peers, including former friend Claudia (Irene Ferreiro) who wishes to fit in with the popular girls.

After such a traumatic ordeal, Sara remains loyal to the one person who showed her much-needed kindness while also punishing her tormentors. She willingly dismisses the fate of the mean girls, although the reality of what occurred begins to weigh upon her. Upon a night-time return to locate her stolen phone, the horrors witnessed are shown to the lead in a terrifying new light.

Thankfully offering a breather during the dark storyline is some welcome levity, particularly in the exchanges between Sara's parents. They're a nice change of pace from the fierce relationship between the lead and her abrasive mother, although while things may get heated between them, the mother is ready to look after her daughter no matter what.

As the village gets wind of the perpetrated crimes, parental worries lead to fingers being pointed in many directions. One such focus is Pedro, a friend of the kidnapped girls that's afraid of wrongful accusations sending him to jail or incurring his father's wrath. Unbeknownst to them, the cause of such misery is the wide-eyed stranger who finds a kinship in Sara and looks out for her in incredibly misguided ways

The third-act sees Sara in the middle of a horrifying ordeal, facing the ramifications of her past choice while making a decision about the situation before her. The way it unfolds feels gives the impression of walking back some of the darker elements and letting Sara off the hook regarding her complicity. One wishes the ending was meaner, as the first two acts delivered a blistering look at bullying and body-shaming which were among the festival's best offerings.

Piggy made its UK Premiere at Frightfest 2022