Spain is a country famous for its love of meats. You’ve got your Iberico and Serrano hams, Chorizo sausage and Galician beef to name but a few. Even Spanish director Bigas Luna served up his Jamon Jamon to the world in 1992, starring dishes Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem.
This impressive debut from Spanish writer and director Carlota Pereda, continues this meat theme, in a way, featuring as it does the daughter of a butcher as its star.
Living in a small town near Madrigal, Spain, is Sara (Laura Galán). She’s in her teens, and keeps pretty much to herself as she’s overweight and is often a target of bullying by locals. So she keeps her headphones on whilst working in her father’s butcher’s shop, staying in her own world as long as she can.
One afternoon, she decides to go to the local pool for a cooling dip in the hot weather. There’s only one other person there, a man swimming, so it’s ideal for her to take the plunge. Unfortunately, some girls spot her there and decide to pick on her brutally. They end up doing something spectacularly cruel, which if they knew what the consequences of their actions would be, they would certainly have thought twice about bullying the way they did.
This is a film that certainly anyone who has been bullied can identify with, especially where weight is concerned as it can be such a sensitive issue.
But Pereda’s film cuts a little deeper, by not only showing the emotional suffering that can come from bullying, but also makes an audience ponder if there’s going too far for the retribution of such actions. The answer may well vary, possibly depending on whether that person has been bullied or not.
Even the film’s central character Sara struggles with the moral side of things, especially when she unwillingly finds herself bang in the middle of it all.
Some of her decisions don’t sit well, in particular those concerning her parents who don’t come out of it well, despite not necessarily treating their daughter that unreasonably throughout.
Still, Pereda certainly deserves credit for the distinct look and feel of her first feature that certainly highlights her as a name to watch in the future.
Even the fact that most of it is not only shot during the day, but during a blindingly bright summer, makes a welcome change, reinforcing the fact that horror doesn’t have to live in the very darkest corners of the night.
Perhaps where it’s a little too vague is in the portrayal of Piggy; there’s a lot of sobbing, but not much in the way of either dialogue, or an insight into her current state of mind, either of which would have been a bonus.
Still, it’s an intriguing lo-fi horror, and as far as a debut is concerned, Pereda certainly brings home the bacon.