– By Stephen Harper
Let me clearly state right now that director Jake Hammond is somebody you need to be keeping a close eye on. His new 14 minute short ‘Pigskin’ is a film I’ve been eager to see since hearing positive reviews coming out of film festivals in the US.
It’s not only Hammond that demands your attention, his co-writer and Cinematographer Nicola Newton is also a key player in this truly impressive piece of filmmaking.
Firstly, other short films released this year should be nervous as the level of skill on show here is mind-blowing. ‘Pigskin’ doesn’t feel like a short and packs so much into its running time with such a powerful message.
The story focuses on high school cheerleader Laurie (Isadora Leiva) who’s battling an eating disorder. Going to great lengths to disguise her image to her friends and wanna-be boyfriend, Laurie is crippling herself by strapping bandaged corsets underneath her clothes even though she’s already clearly underweight. The physical aspects aren’t the major issue here, it’s her mental state. The psychological effects Laurie experiences are truly unnerving. She believes she’s being stalked by a gruesome phantom that only she can see.
Obviously this topic, especially in current society where image is everything, has been presented before many times, but I can honestly say I’ve not seen it done with this precision that captures the psychological experiences people witness and this stylistically raw.
Hammond gets straight to the point with the subject matter, but he somehow morphs it with a retro-80’s style horror. The atmosphere cinematically feels like it was made 30 years ago, which shows you the talent on display. To top it all off its laden with an absolutely stunning retro-synth soundtrack throughout with excellent opening & end credits. It almost feels like the surrogate offspring of ‘It Follows’.
Considering the budget and its cast of unknowns, performance-wise it’s on the money and incorporating practical effects (which I adore) just goes to prove if you have the right script and are artistic and innovative enough you can conjure a wondrous piece.
‘Pigskin’ is a very special short-film indeed. Its subject matter is poignant and tragic and showcases true horrors weaved into a truly horrific tale.