Boar is Staggeringly Entertaining
by Catie Moyer
In a world where elevated horror is getting all the press, director Chris Sun elevated one of the most terrifying wild animals in the outback to staggeringly entertaining proportions. Just released as a Shudder exclusive, Boar is a ridiculously fulfilling giant animal flick about nothing more than stop the beast.
It could be argued that Boar doesn’t have a lot of story going for it. The plot is relatively thin, as it boasts little more than “big animal terrorizes small farming town.” But Boar fills every minute of its 96 minute run-time with payoff after payoff. We open in the dead of night on an outback road as a jeep swerves to miss a small rabbit. The two characters in the jeep watch as the rabbit is followed by a pack of wild boar running from what? Well, we pretty much already know. The jeep is hit by an unseen force and instantly we’re flung out of their jeep and into the meat and bones of our main protagonists.
Boar sets itself apart from other films in its sub-genre by establishing interesting characters in an exceptionally short amount of time. Genre favorites John Jarratt (Wolf Creek), Bill Moseley (Devil Rejects), and Nathan Jones (Charlie’s Farm) join the cast, each playing against type as hero figures. John is Ken, a hardworking maintenance man and father of bar owner Debbie (Simone Buchanan). Moseley plays step-dad Bruce, who is a subtle, geeky man just trying to fit into his new family of wife, two kids, and the daughter’s uppity boyfriend. Jones is Uncle Bernie, a gentle-as-a-fly hulk who is first seen hand nursing a litter of lambs. They’re a group of working class farmers and business owners ripe for the film’s expectant high body count.
Little character moments in Boar serve the bigger narrative. Looking for his dog, Whiskey, a neighbor comments on the dog “shagging the neighbor’s lab” - these details give the audience just enough to root for a no-name character before the monster strikes. And when it strikes, it delivers. We get bite-sized moments of the boar’s enormity from its foggy breath, its giant snout and its forearm-sized tusks. This monster is monstrous. We see only pieces at first, but it’s enough to feel the gravity of the king-sized threat.
Most would say showing too much of the monster does a disservice to movies of this genre. Many a terrifying creature has turned into comedy when too much is revealed (see: Roger Corman’s Creature from the Haunted Sea), but practical effects have come a long way, and there is nothing pulp about this pig.
Done as a practical monster, the Boar is revealed in full stature relatively early on. Edward Yates (Upgrade), Toby Barron (Thor: Ragnarok), and Steven Boyle (King Kong 2005) are just a few of the notable effects artists who lent their talents to the insatiable creature. The Boar is mangy, diseased, and horrifically real. CGI is used sparingly, usually in quick movement sequences or from a distance, and the smart editing keeps the suspension of disbelief alive.
It’s hard to talk about Boar’s pulsating pace without spoiling some of the most shocking and satisfying deaths, so I’m not going to. The film barrels through set piece after set piece, but takes its time to cap off each character’s arc with the big pig before setting its course for the next set of victims. The through-line at Debbie’s bar hosts an array of character moments that drive the story along; everyone in town knows who’s going where. When Debbie becomes concerned for her father’s whereabouts, Bernie is enlisted to find him. When Bernie doesn’t check in, Debbie goes herself.
When you love mutant animal movies, it’s because of those genuine moments of dreadful gore and over-the-top mutilation. There’s nothing more gratifying than seeing the monster rip through the back of a person’s skull with one giant tusk. Boar is a watch worth getting the popcorn out for, and if you’re not convinced yet, I have a few words for you: Nathan Jones Bare Knuckle Boxing a Giant Boar. You will not be disappointed.