Long Pigs is a film that shouldn't work. Shaky cam? Done? Serial killer thriller? Done? Faux snuff film? Done, done. Regardless, through its incisive writing and strong performance by Anthony Alviano, who plays the killer, it succeeds in being both consistently interesting and profoundly disturbing.
Two low-life filmmakers, John (John Terranova) and Chris (co-director Chris Powers) come upon a deal of a lifetime -- they will make a documentary, using serial killer Anthony McAlister (Alviano), who likes to eat his victims, as a subject.
Didn't your mother ever tell you to avoid scary people? Apparently not. Undeterred, the two accompany Anthony on a ride-along. His first victim is a prostitute named Lucy, who he makes into a stew. From step one, the fate of the filmmakers is as violent as it is inevitable.
Anthony justifies his eating habits to the extreme. He doesn't seem to be as much emotionless in that Michael Myers way as utterly and completely shallow in his response to wrongdoing. Something, as they say, just doesn't go to the top floor.
Long Pigs asks the question -- can people who carry out monstrous acts change? Should they forgive themselves when no one else can? Although not reaching the same heights playing a sociopath as Noah Taylor in Simon Rumley's Texas thriller Red, White & Blue, Anthony Alivano, who looks like a more rounded Jason Segel, is effective, dynamic, and chilling.
Paul Fowles also stands out as the grieving father of Ashley, McAlister's only child victim. His deadened smile as he greets the filmmakers and eventual breakdown ring true. The film also incorporates interviews with a callous radio show host (Roger King), stressed cop (Shane Harbinson), and an uber-Liberal serial killer expert. Through discussions of Ed Gein, fictional killer Norman Bates, and different archetypes of serial murderers, she pleads sympathy and integration into society for their kind. Her words show mercy, but she hasn't seen the things the cop has.
The documentary-style technique does not become strained or distracting. That's the thing. Sporting the odd and the unusual, this surprisingly good first feature throws common cinematic techniques out the window. In doing this, it gets away with murder.