Piggy (Cerdita) | Short Film Review
By Alexandra Kelley (March 17th, 2019)
Directed by: Carlota Pereda
Written by: Carlota Pereda
Produced by: Mario Madueño, Luis Angel Ramírez
Key Cast: Laura Galán, Elisabet Casanovas, Paco Hidalgo, Mireia Vilapuig, Sara Barroso
In a saturated industry, movies fight for relevance. A classic medium of escapism, the modern film has evolved to run parallel to the reality from which it is created. This is evident across all genres; Bo Burnam’s Eighth Grade acquainted the audience with familiarly bitter adolescent anxieties; big winner Roma classically depicts a Mexican family’s tribulations against a backdrop of political and social upheaval, and Hereditary preys on similar family strains and exploits them in a gruesome tale of bodily ownership. It is easy to see fear and terror in all of these movies, yet only one is formally classified as “horror”. It seems that the formula for a scary movie is expired. Ghosts and monsters are no longer essential to crafting an atmosphere of fear anymore if they ever really were. No, the modern horror flick will invoke fewer jump scares and more introspection. New age horror holds a mirror up to your face and reveals a distorted and deformed possibility. The terror of understanding horror’s secret truth: that it could have been you.
Take Cerdita, director Carlota Martínez-Pereda’s uncomfortable short film. Cerdita holds a mirror to your face and suddenly you see an overweight teenage girl staring back at you. The bad news: the three monsters hungry for your copious flesh are thinner teenage girls--one of whom you called a friend. A betrayal that lets the beasts in. Viewers are fixated on this poor fat girl’s relentless abuse, flinching at each barbed jab (‘cerdita’ is an abbreviation for ‘cerde’, the Spanish word for ‘pig’). It’s is only later we realize ‘Cerdita’ is actually ‘Sara’, played by a sharp and stunning Lara Galán. Sara is our underdog heroine that we can’t help but see a small piece of ourselves in--the most vulnerable parts, the ones we take great pains to protect. Sara is not that lucky. So fixated are we on her pain that we barely care about the strange man leaving a trail of bodies in his path. We first see him awkwardly encounter Sara at the opening scene in the pool, and shortly after discovering his handiwork submerged and dead underwater. Too appalled by Sara’s torture at the hands of adolescent women, the murdered body is a secondary concern. Our protagonist has it worse. Long panoramic shots that accentuate the Spanish background seem to attempt to dwarf Sara, but her agony remains larger than life.
The entire fourteen-minute movie plays on this bizarre sentiment set against naturalistic shots of a reality most human recognize: insects, half-eaten food, paved walkways. This is indicative of one of the crimes we witness being normalized: Sara’s bullying. Cruel taunts like this occur daily across the world and inflict potentially fatal psychic wounds, yet this is not the supposedly ‘scariest’ aspect of Cerdita. Martínez-Pereda toys with some panoramic shots of the landscape around Sara, possibly in an attempt to dwarf her and her problems. This tactic fails.
The audience remains consumed and horrified as we bear witness to the fat girl’s reality that we never truly fear the objective killer. There is ample cinematographic evidence; the murdering man is haphazardly in the frame, flowing in and out of Sara’s nightmare life. The murder spree is simply background noise. If anything, his victims, recipients of terrible but perhaps not altogether unjustified deaths, are not who we pity. We pity the living, we pity Sara, la cerdita. Thus, the question Cerdita artfully and painfully poses is one of victimhood, crime, and punishment. In the last shot of Sara’s face, fresh with a breakthrough resilience, gives you the answer.
- Alexandra Kelley