The lineage of giant killer pig movies stretches right back to 1984’s Razorback and... sort of stops right there. Chris Sun (director of 2015’s fairly dire Charlie’s Farm) has gone back to the trough, however, and delivered this messy, fitfully enjoyable horror monster thriller which gets more right than it gets wrong, although it’s a close-run thing at times.
It appears that there’s an unnaturally large, grunting, snuffling pig – a boar, if you prefer - rampaging about the Australian outback, goring to death anyone who crosses its path. It cheerfully offs a few random holidaymakers and boozy locals before turning its attentions to the Monroes, a largely good-natured family spending some time with mum Debbie’s man-mountain brother Bernie (Jones). A nice day out turns into a nightmare when the boar comes calling and the blood and gore starts flowing.
That’s pretty much it for your basic story but there’s a bit more flesh on Boar’s bones than meets the eye – and a bit less too. This is a significant step up in quality from Sun’s risible Charlie’s Farm, but Boar’s main problem is its curious and slightly frustrating story structure. We meet the Monroe family – mum, stepdad, lovey-dovey daughter and her snarky boyfriend, and bratty younger son as they travel to meet big Bernie – and then they disappear for well over half an hour to the point that we’ve actually pretty much forgotten all about them. The film turns its attentions to the grungy bar run by Sasha (Melissa Tkautz) whose father Ken (Jarrett) is off to spend a night hunting with his mate. Time spent with Jarrett is never time wasted, of course, and here he plays a character not a million miles away from his iconic role as murderous Mick Taylor from the Wolf Creek franchise yet with all the psychopathic tendencies removed (he’s actually a nice guy here, which seems wrong in every conceivable way). This, along with a couple of other disconnected sequence featuring characters we’ve not met before, seems like an odd and overlong deviation from what’s supposed to be the core narrative of the story, but these scenes at least offer a few opportunities for some nicely wince-inducing gore sequences as our monster mangles and dismembers its victims.
When Boar finally gets back on track though, it’s a lot of fun and the last forty minutes or so are pretty much non-stop as Bernie and the Monroes are forced to flee through the night pursued by the apparently inexhaustible boar. The creature itself is realised by a combination of practical effects (the “live” boar is an effective, blood-drenched but often quite static prop which manages to look suitably terrifying – and a bit tasty, to be honest) and less effective, sparingly-used CGI. Structural issues and a couple of porcines... sorry, poor scenes aside, Boar is a pleasantly unpretentious creature feature blessed with a decent workmanlike script, agreeable performances (we’ll give the rather wooden Jones a pass because he’s bloody enormous) and a swine of a monster and it represents a significant turnaround (it’s probably saved his bacon, in fact) for a director whose previous film was an entirely different kind of bore. Oink.
BOAR / DIRECTOR: CHRIS SUN / SCREENPLAY: KIRSTY DALLAS, CHRIS SUN / STARRING: NATHAN JONES, BILL MOSELEY,JOHN JARRETT, ERNIE DINGO, TRUDI ROSS, SIMONE BUCHANAN / CERT: TBC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW (VOD, AUS)