Mike’s Review: Pig Killer (2022 Another Hole in the Head Film Festival)

★★.5 out of ★★★★★
Directed by Chad Ferrin

An evocative film name for an equally evocative true story. Pig Killer should not be taken lightly and nor should the horrible tale of Willy Pickton who killed and killed until he made his way into Canadian history books as the most prolific serial killer in the country’s history. 

Over the course of several decades Willy “Pig Killer” Pickton admitted to killing 49 women and also declared he wished that he’d been able to keep on killing so that he could have made it a nice round 50. The legend of the Pig Killer is an awful tale that lends itself to a comprehensive retelling of Willy’s reign of terror. 

Genre director Chad Ferrin (Someone’s Knocking at the Door; Easter Bunny, KILL, KILL! The Ghouls) jumps headlong into this horrible mythos that terrified many a woman in the Northwest from the early 1980s to the early 2000s. Willy “Pig Killer” Pickton is a truly despicable character that’s competently placed in the hands of Jake Busey (The Frighteners and Stranger Things). Busey doesn’t quite bring his father’s (Gary) wild-eyed approach to acting but instead opts for a more nuanced and evolved approach to the Pig Killer.

Director Ferrin follows the Pig Killer, throughout an almost nondescript period of time, as he tracks down prostitutes in the seediest parts of Vancouver, BC. His formula is simple: pick them up, drug them, rape them, kill them, feed them to his pigs, kill the pigs and take them to the rendering plant. Well, maybe those last two steps are a little more involved, but allegedly that was part of the Pig Killer’s approach. 

ATMOSfx! Woo!
Jake Busey as Willy “Pig Killer” Pickton.

Interestingly, the film also unwinds many of the variables that went into the Pig Killer’s serial killing ways. Abuse from his father. Incest with his mother. An overbearing brother. A childhood mired in pig poop and marginal financial success. The Pig Killer’s mother, wildly played by adult -film actress Ginger Lynn, is as dark as it gets, but frankly, the film could have been served by more of her presence. 

The film’s cadre of actors is wonderful. From Jake Busey as the Pig Killer (who slips in and out of a Canadian accent) to his hysterical brother David (Lew Temple), to even Ginger Lynn, the film is packed with dark and compelling performances. Sadly, these performances are undone by several nagging factors. 

The film is unnecessarily long. Coming in at nearly two hours there we many scenes that could have been cut, chopped, deleted, or altered. The remaining scenes are constantly punctuated by a faux 1980s soundtrack — most of which is pretty decent. But, the soundtrack is CONSTANT and there are many odd and discordant, but possibly deliberate music choices. 

Finally, there’s a plausible, but almost unnecessary subplot involving a heroin addict, Wendy Eastman (Kate Patel), who just also happens to be our heroine! It partially makes sense to involve her in the film, but Pig Killer would have better served by a deeper exploration of Willy “Pig Killer” Pickton, his weird assortment of friends, his relationship with his brother, and his bacchanalian parties sponsored by his non-profit, the Piggy Palace Good Times Society.

If serial killers are your bag, then Pig Killer is for you. There’s ample gore and some truly wince-inducing scenes. And — added bonus — if you’re not a vegetarian already, Pig Killer may have you rethinking your dietary needs!

Pig Killer is likely NC17 and currently making the festival rounds.

Review By Mike Campbell

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