NEW TO AMAZON PRIME! The best inspiration for a cinematic odyssey 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 story’s subjects, they were on hand to watch it unfold in real life.
The movie is about a young woman, Jodie (Anna Schlegel), from Los Angeles. She’s a nurse, loves Guns N’ Roses, and surrounds herself with a small group of gay friends. Her problem? She’s alone. Jodie lives alone in her apartment, goes to concerts by herself, and her only friends are her incompatible male entourage.
Pig Hag opens with Jodie finding she has a troll harassing her via text. He calls her fat and pathetic and bestows the titular insult. As trolls do, they text continually, hoping to get a rise out of their victims, and Jodie falls into the trap by responding. I would refuse to acknowledge the texts in hopes they stop, but I know people like Jodie. Folks who are compelled to fight back even though they know the harassment will not end and responding only fuels the fire.
After a Guns N’ Roses concert, while coming down from her Axl Rose high, Jodie decides to get drunk at a local liquor store on the way to her motel. Sad and drunk on the sidewalk in front of the store, she meets Dustin (Tony Jaksha), who decides to be friendly and shows a little concern for this stranger’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.
“…a series of vomiting and misspoken words between her and Dustin sends Jodie into an emotional tailspin.”
Pig Hag is less a traditional narrative and 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 connection with anyone.
Holt and Probst’s love story replaces the wine and roses of romance with the cursing and vulgarities of real life. The true star and the reason to watch the movie is Anna Schlegel as Jodie. She puts it all out there—her anger, vulnerabilities, and sexuality. Every flaw and quirk are all on full display. She’s abrasive, yet likable and her performance covers the entire spectrum from a rage-fueled rant cursing out her gay friends to a quiet close-up at the end.
Directors Holt and Probst also made a colossal 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 are spliced into their initial encounter. The decision to edit the film this way was done after the fact and paid off, as it manages expectations for the overall tone.
In the end, I walked away from Pig Hag reminded of why I love watching indie movies. Holt got to tell his story, free from big studio influence.
Pig Hag screened at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival.
"…Schlegel...puts it all out there..."