Piggy (2012), the debut thriller from Kieron Hawkes, is a disturbing depiction of what happens when society’s moral compass goes awry and ordinary people are forced to take the law into their own hands. Featuring a superb performance from rising British star Martin Compston and support from Paul Anderson, this urban shocker may well make you think twice about walking home alone. Joe (Compston) is the shy and retiring type. Coping with his lack of social graces by shutting himself away in his dilapidated North London flat, it takes the sudden appearance of his beloved older brother John (Neil Maskell) to bring him out of himself.
One fateful night, a disagreement between the two brothers and a local gang leads to John’s murder by Jamie (Ed Skrein) the gang’s sinister leader. Thrown off course by John’s death, Joe withdraws further from society until a man calling himself ‘Piggy’ (Anderson) turns up at his flat claiming to be an old school mate of John. Appearing to make Joe’s welfare his top priority, Piggy concocts a plan to avenge his brother’s death. However, Joe discovers that his new ‘friend’ may not be all he seems, and that he becomes ensnared in a web of violence that quickly spirals out of control.
It will come as no surprise that the crux of Piggy centres on the revenge meted out by Joe and the titular masked vigilante upon the gang members responsible for John’s murder. However, it’s the methods and unflinchingly graphic depiction of said retribution which really etch themselves in the memory, making for difficult and often harrowing viewing. Another equally disturbing aspect is that of Joe’s moral breakdown and ensuing isolation from the outside world, including rejection of the love and support offered by ex-girlfriend Claire (played with heartfelt sincerity by Louise Dylan).
A surprise double twist ending does little to soften Piggy’s visceral impact, but the film’s underlying message of urban and moral decay makes it a tartly original thriller and possible new direction for an oft-stale and passé genre.