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Boar (2017) Nic's 31 Halloween Horror Movies for 2019 Film #4

Nic Brown

Wild pigs. Call them boars. Call them feral pigs. Call them whatever you like; they are a problem. In the southern states of the US they are a major wildlife issue. So much so, that unlike other animals, there are no limits on hunting them. Why? Because they can be vicious, deadly, and, perhaps worst of all, they just keep growing bigger. There have been true cases where wild boars in excess of 1000 lbs have been found that have been. Oh and did we mention their voracious appetites and the fact that they will not only eat the meat, but if they’re hungry they’ll eat their prey’s bones? So is it any wonder that there have been several horror movies made about giant wild boars?

The first film that I remember about this particular giant killer beast was a 1984 movie called Razorback (1984) which was set in the Australian outback. Funny enough, the newest film in this giant animals attack subgenre is also set in the wilds of Australia.

Australian film Boar follows a couple of different story arcs that wrap around the common theme - a giant boar is roaming in the woods just outside a small town and killing anything that it runs across in its territory. The film opens with a couple driving across the dark countryside only to run off the road when they swerve to miss a rabbit. Before they can get the car back on the road, they hear a strange sound. It’s dozens of wild hogs, each the size of a large dog, running in fright from something. They’re puzzled by this, but not alarmed. That quickly changes when a giant boar, at least as large as their SUV, rams the side of the vehicle and knocks it down an embankment. The creature follows them down and tears into the overturned car, devouring the people within.

Cut to sometime later, Bruce (Bill Moseley) is driving his family, wife Debbie (Simone Buchanan), stepson Bart (Griffin Walsh) and stepdaughter Ella (Christie-lee Britten) and Ella’s boyfriend Robert (Hugh Sheridan) through the same stretch of outback during the day. They are on their way to visit Debbie’s brother Bernie (Nathan Jones) on the family farm. The group arrives in the small town and this introduces us to a few of the colorful locals briefly.

Bernie is a hulking giant of a man at 6’11, who clearly loves his family and is very happy to see them. He’s less happy about his niece’s choice in boyfriends, but he doesn’t let that get in the way of his excitement at seeing his little sister and the rest.

Before anything else with this group can occur, we’re whisked back to town and the local watering hole where owner Sasha (Melissa Tkautz) is busy tending bar and trying to keep her dad Ken (Jon Jarratt) and his mate Blue (Roger Ward) out of trouble. The duo is planning to go out for an evening of drinking and maybe hunting. We also meet an innocuous group of four campers, two generic couples bound for some fun in the outback.

While all this has occurred, the giant boar has not been idle, killing livestock and the occasional farmer. But now the stage is set for the giant pig to really start thinning out the local population.

The afore-mentioned campers are first. While one couple goes wandering off into the woods for a late night romantic stroll, the other pair decides to just get down to some amorous business. This being a horror film, their coupling is interrupted by the giant boar attacking the camp and killing them. Ken and Blue are parked near enough to hear the attack and they decide to investigate. They also begin making a series of bad life choices that won’t work out well for them when they do find the campground. If this were a drinking game I’d call it “take a swig when Ken has a bad idea”.

The next day Bernie and Bruce decide to take the family out into the outback for a fun afternoon of swimming and a picnic. Debbie, having an issue with firearms, nixes her son’s suggestion that they bring some guns for hunting. However, Bruce does suggest they bring one for self-defense, just in case. Again, this being a horror film, the expected encounter with the boar comes up, and the remainder of the film becomes a running fight for survival as the giant boar relentlessly pursues the family. Will they escape? Can they kill the beast? Or will they all end up as pig-chow? That’s the question.

Boar is a killer monster film released in the US exclusively through the Shudder streaming service. While the film follows most of the typical tropes of that genre--don’t go into the woods, don’t split up, don’t forget to bring a gun, etc.--it vastly exceeded my expectations in terms of story, character development and special effects. It’s easy these days to substitute computer generated effects for practical ones in an effort to save money. The SyFy network has almost made this an art form. However, there is something to be said for the use of real props and animatronics wherever possible and Boar does that. Yes, there are numerous CGI shots of the boar, mostly while it’s running or when it’s seen moving in the distance. However, almost all of the close-ups and attack scenes involve practical effects. This gives the film a certain level of reality that makes it easier to accept the giant monster and thereby draw the audience into the film more.

There is also the character development and story angle to consider. Boar takes the time and trouble to give each of the main characters some backstory and enough depth to make them feel real. There are some you cheer for the boar to eat but there are even more that you hope will survive. That kind of engagement is what helps make a film not just watchable, but engaging and enjoyable. I found myself particularly interested in Nathan Jones’ portrayal of Bernie. Jones really brings the hulking character to life, making him more than just a one-dimensional cannon fodder character.

So if you’re in the mood for a giant killer monster movie that can deliver for scares and tension, check out writer/director Chris Sun’s Boar. It isn’t going to win any Oscars, but the film is a lot of fun and perhaps a cautionary tale of why we should all eat more bacon.

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