The market for mockumentaries and first-person films has been overly saturated as of late. With films like “Cloverfield”, and “Paranormal Activity” rocking audiences all over the world, even studios like The Asylum are rushing to exploit this gimmick. Most of the time, the results are less than desirable. Films of this nature that are actually worth seeing, often slip through the cracks, and get dumped straight to disc. “Long Pigs” is a shining example of that sad fact. With a production date of 2007, the film took several years to find it’s way to the limited audience that has been lucky enough to experience it thus far. While it’s readily available through such outlets as Amazon.com, word of mouth still hasn’t spread much farther than hardcore members of the online horror community.
The story follows two filmmakers as they document the activities of a cannibalistic serial murderer as he kills, skins, cooks, and eats several victims. As the project progresses, the pair find themselves becoming more involved in the crimes than they had originally anticipated. Perhaps losing sight of the sheer fact that the subject they are following is a mass murderer, they find themselves identifying with him, and perhaps even consider him a friend. They watch as he interacts with people socially, and even attends a barbecue at his house as he feeds his unsuspecting friends human flesh, cooked to perfection. A family tragedy will shine a light on his mental instability, and the filmmakers have to play tug of war with their desire to finish the project, and keep their own lives.
Anthony Alviano is so mesmerizing as the flesh consuming Anthony McAlistar that it immediately puts this film ahead of the pack. Anthony straddles a fine line between being incredibly down-to-earth, and likable, and downright menacing. The fact that he’s so easy for the audience to relate to, makes the impact of his crimes hit much harder. There is something about the matter of fact way he goes about his business, humming as he carves the meat from the suspended corpses of his victims. The sense of joy that you can see in Anthony’s face as he’s preparing his meal is sinister. Even going as far as to joke that if he ever gets caught, the way he will capitalize on his crimes will be to publish a cannibalistic cookbook. When things start to unravel later in the film, you can sense the inner turmoil Anthony is experiencing, as it’s splashed across the screen in a very subtle, yet noticeable way. At the drop of the hat, my empathy for Anthony turned to terror.
This is not an effects driven film, by any stretch of the imagination. Though, the effects that are displayed are absolutely rock-solid. “Long Pigs” does a good job at illustrating the efficacy of practical effects. By that I mean, when practical effects are used properly, the impact will almost always be stronger than results that can be achieved through more digital resources. One scene in particular features Anthony “dressing” one of his corpses from head to toe, and preparing them for consumption. This is done in fast-motion, and to the tune of “The Nutcracker”. This is one of the most effective scenes in the film, and quite possibly any film in recent memory. It’s disgusting, yet utterly fascinating.
First time directors Chris Power, and Nathan Hynes have turned in a stellar first outing. Almost as intriguing as the main storyline is the interview footage with local law enforcement and specialists. The interviews are so competently implemented that it gives the film a genuine documentary feel. You may think to yourself, that this has been done recently with films like “Behind The Mask”, and while that might be a fair comparison, it is also fair to state that the two films couldn’t be more different. Where “Behind The Mask” was more of a comedy, “Long Pigs” is absolutely haunting, and eerie.
I was a tad apprehensive at first, to be completely honest. While the premise sounded extremely interesting, we’ve been beaten to death with these first person style mockumentaries for the past five years or so. In my opinion, “Long Pigs” is one of the best examples of how this style of filmmaking is done right. It’s smart, it’s interesting, and has an amazing range of supporting actors. The special effects are nothing short of amazing, especially when you compare it to some of the more recent horror films with a significantly larger budget.
Even if you feel like you can’t stomach your way through another film of this style, it would be a wise decision to perhaps push aside your preconceived notions for 90 minutes, and give this one a proper watch. I pressed the play button fully expecting to have a loathsome experience. What happened instead was what I considered to be one of my favorite films of the year.