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Review: Jake Hammond’s Pigskin (2016)

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I’ve always said, and I think most people will agree, that real life horror is one of the scariest things of all. That’s why short films dealing with true topics tend to strike a cord with audiences. Being based in reality packs an extra punch and gives the viewer an emotional cord to connect to. Eating disorders and body shaming are two of the biggest topics affecting youths around the world. There’s this idea that if you’re not skin and bones or have big lips and a big butt, than you’re not beautiful. This, obviously, couldn’t be the further from the truth, but media representation and peer pressure are forcing youths to take their bodies for granted with horrible means of achieving “the perfect look.” Starving yourself is not only taxing on your body, its damaging to the mind, too. From what I understand, sufferers of eating disorders and body dysmorphia deal with the more psychological effects of the illness long after the body has healed.

This can be seen in a dark and honest, fourteen minute short film titled Pigskin. In this film festival favorite, a high school cheerleader is struggling to maintain her weight, which is already below normal, and even places her midsection in homemade corsets. The cutest guy on the football team is seemingly unaware of her condition and pursues her, both on the field and after practice in the school pool. In the moments where she allows herself to open up to others, the young girl is haunted by a masked figure who stalks her from afar and forces her back into the unknowing world her mind has created. Her body starving, her mind losing touch with reality, it isn’t long before she’s quite literally tearing herself apart. Pigskin is written and directed by Jake Hammond with co-writer Nicola Newton. It was produced by Paula Gonzalez with Nicola Newton as cinematographer, Lead and supporting cast members include Isadora Leiva, Pablo Gonzalez, Isabella Groff, Julie Moss and Luke Evans.

Here’s why I’m happy that Pigskin was put into production as a short film. Behind all of the horror, one can find a pointed and thought provoking theme. What makes one beautiful? What will a person give up to attain that image in their head? Had this been adapted as a feature length film, I think it would have been beating a dead horse with a stick and it would have lost its edge and credibility as a short film with a message. Pigskin is short, sweet and to the point and it does so in a beautiful way. I always say that anyone can pick up a camera and make a “movie,” but it takes true talent to film a picture, a piece of cinema that will move the audience in an emotional way. This short film achieves that goal and it’s no surprise to me that it’s been receiving a successful film festival run around the globe. Pigskin is a complete cinematic and thematic experience in fourteen minutes. It delivers a high quality of work and story in such a small amount of time, where most feature length titles struggle to get even half the effect!

Traditional story-telling and practical effects win again. The cinematography was amazing, especially for independent standards. I thoroughly enjoyed the production design where – unless I’m wrong – Pigskin was meant to look like it took place 20 or 30 years ago. This also lends itself to the poignant and sad theme that weight and body disorders have been around for a long, long time. Pigskin was even gorier than I expected it to be, though the gore is reserved only for the film’s darkest moments and is used to showcase the young girl’s struggle in a more terrifying way. And the ending is pretty open ended, but you’ll need to see it for yourself to get what I’m talking about. I also really enjoyed the opening and closing credits as well as the promotional materials that have been released. It’s a smart way to look hip and draw in the younger crowd, which I assume is a large part of this film’s target audience. I could keep going, but I’ve digested my thoughts on this film all afternoon. Remember folks, you may think someone has the perfect life, but you never know what’s eating away at them behind closed doors. Final Score: 9 out of 10. 

…what’s a mackpie?

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Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)