Thirteen year old Rick lives in less than ideal conditions but social services don’t seem all that worried. After things go from bad to worse, he runs away and becomes one of many street kids. When he witnesses a brutal murder, Rick ends up going back home where a gruesome scene awaits him.
Pig Pen is directed by Jason M. Koch who co-wrote it with Mark Leake. The film is unrelentingly dark and creates an oppressive atmosphere that should put viewers in an uncomfortable place. The entire film is built on negativity and what little light or positivity there is gets snuffed very quickly every time. The feeling and atmosphere created are oppressive and depressing. The whole film is very very effective at this. The characters that live in this environment are sad, desperate, or evil. These people are almost all negative people, human beings anyone wouldn’t necessarily want to be around ever. They are damaged souls who do damage onto others.
The dialogue is basic but fits the characters and advances the story without cluttering the film with long conversations or monologues. The people involved are unhappy and living hard lives, so their language and conversations reflect that. The cast here is fairly small, most scenes involving Rick (Pig Pen), his mother Sandy, her boyfriend Wayne, or a combination of them. Rick is played by much older than 13 years old actor Josh Davidson who plays the early teen part very well, especially considering his age (born in 1975 per IMDB), his interpretation is sad and desperate, and making the viewer feel for him. Sandy is played by actress Nicolette le Faye who also gives a sad turn as her character, adding sheer fear which makes the viewer worry for her, her safety, and well-being.
As her boyfriend Wayne is Vito Trigo who brings menace and violence with all his being. His character comes off as flat out nasty and scary as the abusive asshole who makes Rick lose it. He brings out a visceral reaction to his character, enough to make the viewer hate him as he is just evil. The characters all do come off as unhappy people with little to live for. Pig Pen being a very independent film made with the help of an Indie Go Go campaign, the few effects there are have to be expected to be on the inexpensive side but they also look great. The central piece of effect, which will not be spoiled here to keep its surprise as big as can be, is very well done, looking real and painful, hitting a nerve as soon as it’s revealed.
Kaleigh Brown did fantastic work with that scene and the others where her special effects talents were needed. She shows that she can work in little time, with a small budget to deliver big budget shock and horror.Pig Pen is not only an independent film made on a tight budget, it was also made with a small crew with a lot of that crew having worked with Jason M. Koch on his previous film 7th Day. Having not seen that film, it cannot be compared here. Solely based on Pig Pen however, let’s hope Koch keeps making films as he has a style that works and is a talented story teller. Pig Pen is depressing and dark, a slice of desperation from one kid’s life, almost completely devoid of any light or hope.
It’s very violent in spots, with its violence not all being physical. Thankfully it has some moments to breathe or it would have become too much or completely lost its impact. This is not a feel good film and it should and probably will, make most viewers uncomfortable, a sign of a successful dark film.