2008 FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL FEATURE! When John Hickman brings his woefully clueless city friends to his uncle’s cabin in the North Carolina woods to go wild pig hunting, you know that it can only go well. Guns, inexperience, alcohol and locals that are somewhat hostile to strangers are usually a winning combination, right? Also, it’s not like the legend that John’s uncle was killed by “The Ripper,” a gigantic 3000 pound wild boar who eats people, could be true, right?
It’s just like Christopher Reeves said when he went horse riding that one time: “Everything will be fine. A little fresh air is what I need to get rid of this crick in my neck.”
I really liked this movie, I did. When John meets up with two of his old redneck chums and they join his hunting party this became a very fun, quirky and relaxed film about a bunch of guys doing guy things. The dialogue, the chemistry between the leads, the cool music, the mood; all of it was working pretty damn well I have to say.
Except that two things happened during the film to sort of ruin it.
Thing #1: I have no problem with scores that have recurring musical themes. “Blade Runner,” “Conan the Barbarian,” “Jaws” and “Rambo” all have a signature theme that is repeated over and over throughout their running time. Awesome! Great! However, each of these movies repeats their theme over different action under different circumstances and the theme itself may subtly vary. In “Pig Hunt,” it’s the same thing played exactly the same way under the exact same circumstances (When the characters begin one of their many walks through the woods.) and it’s played over and over and over until you’re sick of it.
Thing #2: I’ve said before that I believe story isn’t important and that plot is only somewhat important. However, that doesn’t mean that there are no rules to plotting out a film. One important and unbreakable rule is to never, ever introduce a plot element that changes the whole nature of the film late in the game. What “Pig Hunt” does, with about 30 minutes left to go, is ignore this sacred and hallowed rule. Instead of following the pig hunting scenario, which was going along fine may I add, it takes a sharp left turn out of nowhere to become a Hillbilly Revenge film. This would be bad enough, but then it resolves the whole tangent in barely ten minutes (Okay, maybe fifteen) before remembering that there’s a giant pig that eats people running around loose and that maybe the audience might like to see more of it in a film called “PIG Hunt.” I’m not even joking when I say that a clever editor and/or a half day of reshoots could remove the entire subplot from the film and that no one would ever be the wiser.
Thus, I wasn’t surprised at all when I found out that screenwriter Robert Mailer Anderson was a novelist (A very well respected one by the way) because the film is structured kind of like a book, complete with digressions. However, even though this is fine for the written word, this is all wrong for film. The pacing of a book is much more loose than a film’s and you can screw around quite a little bit with plot detours. A film on the other hand has to be about one, maybe two, things. There’s not much wiggle room, nor should there be. A film is too short for that sort of thing.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that “Pig Hunt” is a flawed, but really fun film, that you’ll enjoy if you can get past the third act’s flaunting of cinematic rules and the musical score annoyance.