★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
Savage, bloodthirsty pigmen rule a “lost” land where a group of geocachers unwisely tread. Creature design and gore effects drive this violent chiller.
Directed by Barney Burman
The classic sitcom Seinfeld featured discussions about “a race of mutant pigmen” in the episode “The Bris” in 1993. Twenty-six years later, renowned makeup artist and character actor Barney Burman brings the concept of mutant pigmen to vicious, gory cinematic life in his debut as a feature film director and his sophomore effort as a feature film writer with Wild Boar. The movie is an intense, gory ride that often feels like Planet of the Apes meets The Hills Have Eyes.
Indeed, Wild Boar is obviously heavily influenced by the original 1968 Planet of the Apes and its 1970 sequel Beneath the Planet of the Apes, from obvious homage such as scarecrows to set and costume design. Rather than this film’s protagonists being astronauts crash landing on what they think is a distant planet, they are geocachers who wind up in a topsy-turvy radiation-scarred world mere yards away from normality. The geocachers are mostly stock characters having slightly eccentric variations on tropes, with a couple of them coming across as boorish and annoying. In other words, viewers won’t be sad to see most of them meet their gruesome demises.
Wild Boar isn’t the type of film to watch for those seeking deep characterization and high drama, though. This is flat-out horror reminiscent of brutal 1970s drive-in fare. As you might guess from the film’s title, it is a creature feature, and the monsters look extremely cool. The special effects and makeup departments do a knockout job here with practical effects, from the creature design of the pigmen to the gory set pieces of torture and death. Blood and guts are front and center, often rather literally.
The ensemble cast is game, with Augie Duke standing out, and Burman himself in a supporting role as a legendary missing geocacher. Burman has worked in a variety of capacities on hundreds of genre films and television episodes, and he shows an intimate knowledge of scare-fare movies as a writer and director with Wild Boar. The focus is on horror here with occasional comic relief, but when these pigmen get to human hunting, there is little funny business. Gorehounds, grindhouse, and creature feature aficionados should find plenty to enjoy in this giddy outing.
Wild Boar screened at FilmQuest, which ran at Velour in Provo, Utah, from September 6–14.