Fairy tales, we all know them. Most of us think about Disney Princesses when we talk about fairy tales. But Squeal is not quite that; instead, take a little bit of a dark and twisted fairy tale, some black humor, and maybe some BDSM kink, and you have a film you might enjoy and get something out of.
The script by writer and director Aik Karapetian and co-writer Aleksandr Rodionov begins with voice-over narration that introduces our protagonist Samuel (Kevin Janssens), a young man traveling to a country he’s never heard of in search of his father. In a country he doesn’t speak the language and doesn’t know where he’s going, he comes across a pig on the road. Not knowing its owner, he runs into a woman named Kirke (Laura Silina), searching for the pig. He takes the pig home with the woman, and she gives him a place to stay.
Little does he know she doesn’t live alone, and when the farmer gets home, they start treating him like the other pigs by chaining Samuel by the neck, naked in the pigsty. Samuel cannot understand most of what is spoken by these people who have captured him. He’s beaten and forced to eat some horrendous pig slop until he proves he is worthy of better treatment by having him do various chores around the farm; although he refuses to slaughter the pigs, he has to clean up after them (gross).
When Samuel tries to prove himself to the farm owner by saving Kirke, things start looking up for him, and, yes, a magical pig may show up to help Samuel. You learn very little about Samuel’s backstory, and there is even less exposition and backstory about Kirke and the dysfunctional family. The less you know about the film’s plot, the better, but there are some surprises in this movie that are just plain bonkers that increasingly get quite complex. This film tackles some interesting things about man, nature, freedom, and slavery. The way it goes into these topics without being so cheesy in its dark and odd ways – although, the film may seem cheesy to some – is kind of astounding in its way of telling its story, and I praise the writers for this.
Watching this film turned my stomach inside out, but there is something magical about it. It’s stylistic but also extremely disturbing. It takes a human and throws him into an inhuman situation that gives us an insight into humanity that translates into the real world in the darkest way possible. It is harrowing to see Kirke have Samuel submit to her as her newfound pet and treat him the way she does, all while her love seems genuine as she claims to protect him from the woods. This can translate into the real world as humans are some of the deadliest creatures on the planet; we don’t care what we have to do to get what we want, even if we have to hurt one another for it or even destroy others’ property.
The way it speaks its narrative is a beautiful thing. As you watch the film, an English-language narration combined with harp music pairs well with the narrative it’s telling. As the farmer’s plans become more evident, Squeal reveals more of its unsettling and disturbing tale to us. It goes on to show some very nerve-wracking scenes of control. Janssens is fully committed to this performance. He draws you in every second of the film.
Samuel and Kirke have an unusual relationship. Even though Kirke has him imprisoned, the narrator admits that she likes having a man at her side who pays attention to her. And the reason for this is that her father has mistreated her throughout her life. The film doesn’t give the viewer much about these characters, and some viewers may be dumbfounded by this movie and have no idea what is happening. I was, and I still am. The film may be an animal rights protest. But the movie tries to portray the dynamics of abusive relationships by having power over someone, putting someone in captivity, and taking their freedom anyway. This film definitely says something about the possibility of no choice (if we look at the time we are in nowadays). But at the same time, Squeal doesn’t give a clear lesson here, leaving the viewer to take on their own conclusion. We don’t get a lot of insights into these characters; you hardly learn anything about Kirke or Samuel.
All the performances are excellent; sometimes, the narration sets the film’s tone, and it’s pretty astounding in a good way. The score of the film and its classical ethos is spot on. Nothing is visually stunning with the film, but its cinematography and dark, grimy looks create a very creepy setting. This film doesn’t give the viewer much to go off of, but that’s the part I like about Squeal: allowing the viewer to make their assumptions. Is it possible to be happy in an abusive relationship? Is it about animal abuse, or what I got out of it; our freedom and human rights? One thing is for sure, there is something here, I think, for everyone, and in its own dark, twisted fairy tale way, Squeal delivers a wild and harrowing experience worth every bit of the journey.
Squeal is currently playing in select theaters and is available on VOD platforms courtesy of Good Deed Entertainment and Cranked Up Films.
Squeal delivers a wild and harrowing experience worth every bit of the journey.
It all started when I was a kid watching Saturday morning cartoons like the Spider-Man: Animated Series and Batman. Since then I’ve been hooked to the world of pop culture. Huge movie lover from French New Wave, to the latest blockbusters, I love them all. Huge Star Wars and Marvel geek. When I’m free from typing away at my computer, you can usually catch me watching a good flick or reading the next best comic. Come geek out with me on Twitter @somedudecody.