Spring Cleaning: Piggy is brutal horror with a big heart

Welcome to 1428 Elm’s Spring Cleaning column! For this series of articles, our writing staff are clearing out our “to watch” lists on streaming platforms, and dusting off those DVDs and blu rays we have been meaning to FINALLY watch.
Piggy - Courtesy Magnolia Pictures
Piggy - Courtesy Magnolia Pictures /

Piggy has been on my radar for quite a while now, and I was happy when it came to Hulu. Yet, somehow I still hadn’t watched it, so I decided to change that. I had heard a lot of good things about it, and the poster art is definitely eye-catching.

For those who haven’t watched Piggy yet, it is a Spanish film. Hulu offers a dubbed version and a subtitled version; I watched with subtitles, because I could tell in the first two minutes that the voice acting wasn’t very good in the dubbed version. That’s usually the case for me.

The film opens with Sara at her parents’ butcher shop. She is an overweight young woman wearing headphones and chewing on her hair as she watches a group of other women outside the window. You can immediately tell that she is shy and insecure.

Later, she is at the community pool, and the women she had been observing earlier show up and begin bullying her. The ringleader is Maca, who starts to taunt Sara, calling her “Piggy”, and eventually she grabs a pool net and loops it over Sara’s neck, causing her to panic and dive underwater. There is a disconcerting background shot of the lifeguard’s body at the bottom of the pool, but Sara is swimming with her eyes closed and doesn’t spot it.

Piggy 3
Piggy - Courtesy Magnolia Pictures /

Before the girls leave, Maca grabs Sara’s backpack and towel, leaving her to walk home crying, clad only in her bikini. After being harassed by some men driving past her, she takes off down a side road and sees a van parked off the road, and this is where Piggy becomes a horror movie. In the back of this van are Sara’s bullies – they have been kidnapped by a killer. When one of the kidnapped girls appears at the back window pleading for Sara to help, she freezes. The kidnapper steps out, drops Sara’s towel on the ground, and leaves.

Now Sara is in a pickle. She is terrified to speak up and report what she has seen; plus, these girls have made her life hell, so why should she care what happens to them? Once the police begin to realize that she was at the pool and saw the missing girls, she has to wrestle with her conscience. While I don’t want to give away the nuances of the story, suffice it to say that the finale is tense and brutal.

What makes Piggy such a good film is primarily the acting performance of Laura Galan, who plays Sara. She doesn’t even have a lot of lines, she barely even speaks in the first half of Piggy…but, her face tells us EVERYTHING. I don’t know if I have ever empathized so much with a character. I wanted her to do the right thing, but I also understood her hesitation.

It's also easy to sympathize for her because of her overbearing mother, who thinks the solution for the bullying is for Sara to go on a diet and lose weight. I mean, I guess she means well, but she doesn't listen to her daughter, which is in itself a form of bullying.

Piggy world premiered at Sundance in 2022, and hit the film festival circuit where it won many well-deserved awards, including Fantastic Fest’s Best Horror Picture and the Melies d’Or at Sitges. Laura Galan was also recognized with Best Actress nominations and awards.

Both the Spanish version and the English dubbed versions of Piggy are currently available to stream on Hulu. I highly recommend checking it out.

Next. Shudder schedule for May. The Toxic Avenger (and sequels) are coming to Shudder in May. dark