Firstly, I just want to say thanks to ChicArt Public Relations for sending me an online screener of the 13 minute, Body Horror short “PigSkin”, Written by Jake Hammond (who also directed) and Nicola Newton. Pigskin follows a body image conscious, high school cheerleader named Laurie (played by first time actress, Isadora Leiva) as she struggles with an eating disorder that begins to manifest itself in the form of a faceless evil. The film also stars Pablo Gonzalez, Isabella Groff, Julie Moss and Luke Evans.
I wasn’t expecting to open my email this morning and find a link to this brand new short film that’s currently doing the festival rounds. If you ask me I wish that would happen more often, particularly for films that I haven’t heard about because there’s so much great content out there that I’m sure gets by me. I’m a huge fan of the body horror sub-genre and I’ve reviewed some fantastic films within it, most notably the works of Richard Powell and Zach Green from Fatal Pictures *see reviews* https://adamthemoviegod.com/familiar-review/ and https://adamthemoviegod.com/heir-review/. Jake and Nicola have written a pertinent script that explores the possible link between psychosis and those with body image issues (which most of us have had at one point in our lives). For entertainment purposes, the film takes a much more exaggerated approach to what can happen when the mind becomes a trap. Pigskin has wonderful production value, only further highlighted by Newton’s cinematography. There’s a fantastic mix of shot choices on display, a visual feast you might say, at least for those of us interested in the technical side.
The opening frames linger underneath the bleachers as Laurie attempts to make herself presentable, in the process revealing the long-lasting impressions of self harm. There’s some gorgeous tracking shots in the school’s locker room, a handful of distinct wide shots (one of which can be seen in the image above) and consistently good framing throughout the speedy 13 minute run time. The 80’s style, synth pumping score works a treat. Music from The Chromatics and the recognizable track “A Real Hero” from Nicolas Winding Refn’s masterpiece “Drive”, both help to set the mood. The remainder of the score exercises low-fi synth sounds and well-timed bass notes. Ordinarily I’m not a fan of films with sequences that slow their frame rate, usually because there’s no real reason for it but much like the aforementioned “Drive”, it works here for artistic merit. The performances from this small cast of five are good although there’s not a huge amount of dialogue. The dashes of creepy imagery throughout is where the film is most engaging.
I wasn’t a fan of the rotating camera work in the closing part of the film. I understand the character was probably feeling disoriented and hence the aim is to make the audience feel the same, it’s just a personal preference and I’d rather have seen it executed differently. The dialogue audio could have been a fraction louder in the mix as well, to be fair though, I’ listened through computer speakers which isn’t ideal.
Pigskin is a fantastic entry into the Body Horror sub-genre and more importantly, it touches on a couple of very important issues arising in young people today (particularly girls). The production value is truly impressive, the cinematography as good as anything I’ve seen and the 80’s influenced soundtrack gives it the vibe of something like “Carrie” and “It Follows”. If there’s a short film to watch out for at the end of this year it’s Pigskin, so keep an eye out!
My rating for “Pigskin” is 9/10