The best inspiration for a film is personal experience. As a filmmaker, you’re emotionally connected to the story, while at the same time, no one can ever claim the wild tale you’re telling, never really happened. Such is the case with Colby Holt and Samuel Probst’s feature film Pig Hag. While they are not the subjects of the film, they were on hand to watch it unfold in real life.
Pig Hag is about a young woman Jodie (Anna Schlegel) from Los Angeles. She’s a nurse living, who loves Guns N’ Roses, and surrounds herself with a small group of gay, male friends. Her problem? She’s alone. Jodie lives alone in her apartment, goes to concerts alone, and her only friends are her incompatible gay entourage.
The film opens after with Jodie checking her phone and finds she has a troll harassing her through text. He calls her fat and pathetic and bestowed the titular title “Pig Hag.” As trolls do, they text continually hoping to get a rise out of their victims, and Jodie falls into the trap by responding. Personally, I would refuse to acknowledge the texts in hopes they just stop. I know people like Jodie, compelled to fight back even though they know the harassment will not end and responding only fuels the fire.
“As trolls do, they text continually hoping to get a rise out of their victims, and Jodie falls into the trap…”
On the bright side, Jodie has her gay friends to lend her support. Jodie has an aggressive personality and is in constant need to vent. Her friends are there to listen and sometimes bear the brunt of her anger.
Jodie’s life changes while at a Guns N’ Roses concert just outside of Los Angeles. During the concert, Jodie finds solace and serenity. But while coming down from her Axl-Rose high, she decides to get drunk at a local liquor store on the way to her motel. Sad and drunk on the sidewalk of the store, Jodie meets Dustin (Tony Jaksha), who decides to be friendly and shows a little concern for Jodie’s state of being. A passive-aggressive encounter ensues ending with Jodie and Dustin spending the night together. The next morning, a series of vomiting and misspoken words between her and Dustin sends Jodie into an emotional tailspin.
Pig Hag is less a traditional film narrative, but more a glimpse into Jodie’s life over a handful of days. The film is not about trolling or one-night stands, but about the difficulties of finding love for people in L.A. who are not hot actresses or skinny fitness models. For Jodie, her idea of finding real-romance is shattered, and she turns to some dark places in the end to find some kind of a connection with anyone.
“She puts it all out there—her anger, vulnerabilities, and sexuality are on full display…”
Holt and Probst story of love replaces the wine and roses of romance with the cursing and vulgarities of real life. The true star and the reason to watch Pig Hag is Anna Schlegel as Jodie. She puts it all out there—her anger, vulnerabilities, and sexuality are on full display. She’s abrasive, yet likable and her performance covers the full spectrum from a rage-fueled rant cursing out her gay friends to a quiet close-up at the end of the film.
Directors Holt and Probst also made a huge editing decision, that I think ultimately paid off. The story and events surrounding Jodie and Dustin’s one-night stand are not told in chronological order. Moments before and after the incident and spliced into the encounter. This fact was revealed to me after screening the film, while I found it odd as it was just sprung us without warning. The decision to edit the film this way was done after the fact and paid off to better manage the overall tone of the film.
In the end, I walked away from Pig Hag reminded of why I love watching indie films. Writer Colby Holt got to tell his story, free from big studio influence.
Pig Hag (2019) Directed by Colby Holt and Samuel Probst. Written by Colby Holt. Starring Anna Schlegel, Tony Jacksha, Nate Stoner, Pete Zias, Michael Henry, Andrew Kudla. Pig Hag screened at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival.
7 out of 10 stars