Tag Archives: Piggy

Fright Club: Mean Girls & Bullies in Horror

Horror is about power versus vulnerability. That’s why bullies and mean girls fit so well into the genre. You always hope the vulnerable will overcome. In this genre, there’s always the real worry that evil will overcome. But somehow, bullies and mean girls never stand a chance.

There are so many great ways to spend time with these high school baddies, but here are our five favorites:

5. Sleepaway Camp (1983)

Meg (Katherine Kamhi) was no picnic, but side-ponytail Judy (Karen Fields) is an all-timer when it comes to onscreen bullies. She hates everyone, is mean to everyone, but she really detests poor Angela (Felissa Rose).

“She’s a carpenter’s dream! She’s flat as a board and needs a screw!”

Like all mean girls in horror, Judy gets what’s coming to her. Still, you have to respect that ponytail.

4. It (2017)

Man, the kids of Derry have it rough long before the circus comes to Derry. Between Henry Bowers (Nicholas Hamilton) and his powerful mullet and the girls dumping wet garbage on Beverly, nobody’s safe. The Losers Club really brings them out of the woodwork.

In fact, they save Mike Hanlon’s life, which bonds the group through the real clown show. Maybe this is what made each of these kids tough enough to withstand he real clown show.

3. Let the Right One In (2008)

Sure, we know Conny learned to be a bully from his older brother, Martin. Maybe Martin learned it from his dad or something. But Oskar’s had just about enough of it.

Unfortunately, Oskar’s not as good at defending himself as he’d like to think he is once big brother shows up. Not that he really needs to defend himself anymore. In one of the greatest bully comeuppance sequences in all horror, Eli shows Oskar what friends are for.

2. Piggy (2020)

Carlota Pereda complicates the mean girl trope in this brutal, moving, amazing Spanish horror film. Sarah is targeted by town mean girl Maca (Clauda Salas). Roci (Camille Aguilar) is almost as bad, but it’s Claudia (Irene Ferreiro) who really breaks Sarah’s heart. It wasn’t long ago, they were friends. Now Claudia is willing to taunt, humiliate, and in one instance, nearly drown “Piggy”.

Maybe that’s why Sarah does what she does when the three girls are taken. That is to say, maybe that’s why Sarah doesn’t do what she doesn’t do.

1. Carrie (1976)

What else? Is there a more tragic scene? Is there a scene that better establishes a character, a context, or horror?

De Palma films the scene in question, appropriately enough, like a tampon commercial, all cheesecloth and beautific music. And then Carrie White (Oscar-nominated Sissy Spacek) desperately claws at her classmates, believing she is dying. It’s the most authentic image of vulnerability and terror you can imagine, matched in its horror by the reaction she receives from those she seeks: laughter, mockery and contempt.

The result is the ultimate in mean girl cinema and an introduction to a nearly perfect horror film.

Screening Room: Hellraiser, Amsterdam, Lyle Lyle Crocodile, Luckiest Girl Alive, Piggy & More

Chicas Malas

Piggy (Cerdita)

by Hope Madden

Mean girls are a fixture in cinema, from Mean Girls to Carrie, Heathers to Jawbreaker to Napoleon Dynamite and countless others. Why is that? It’s because we like to see mean girls taken down.

Writer/director Carlota Pereda wants to challenge that base instinct. But first, she is going to make you hate Maca (Claudia Salas), Roci (Camille Aguilar) and Claudia (Irene Ferreiro). In one tiny Spanish town, the three girls make Sara’s (Laura Galán, remarkable) life utterly miserable. Like worse than Carrie White’s.

And though Sarah’s relationship with her mother (Carmen Machi) is a rose garden compared to the one Carrie shares with her wacko mom, things could be better. Sarah’s mom veers from unobservant to dismissive to defensive. Even when she’s trying to be helpful, that aid comes with a heaping dose of insensitivity.   

But it’s those pretty, skinny high school girls whose contempt nearly kills Sarah. In a scene that’s difficult to forget, cruelty blossoms into something brutal and horrifying as Sarah tries to take advantage of a nearly empty swimming pool.

Traumatized by the afternoon, a dazed Sara makes a choice that she will wrestle with for the balance of the film. Pereda doesn’t present a simple, single reason for what Sarah does. Or, more to the point, does not do.

In this scene and all others, the filmmaker complicates every trope, all the one-dimensional victim/hero/villain ideas this genre and others feast on. Redemption doesn’t come easily to anyone. Pereda also seamlessly blends themes and ideas from across the genre, upending expectations but never skimping on brutal, visceral horror.

Much of that horror would feel unearned were it not for substantial performances from every member of the cast. But Sarah is the most complicated character by far, and Galán performance is a reckoning. She’s utterly silent for long stretches, Sarah trying to make herself invisible. It’s in those still moments that Galán shines most fiercely.

Piggy is a tough watch, there’s no doubt. It’s also a ferocious and stunning piece of horror cinema.