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Squealer (2023) Review

Squealer is the first of two films, the other is Chad Ferrin’s Pig Killer due out at the end of the week, inspired by Canadian serial killer, rapist, and possible cannibal Robert Pickton. Pickton killed as many as 49 women and fed many of the bodies to the pigs on his farm, others he allegedly ground up and added to pork that he sold to the public.

The film begins on an equally sensational note as a silhouetted figure armed with a machete chases a naked woman through some scrubland. She’s struck by an RV, whose occupants take her to the hospital.

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Lisa (Danielle Burgio, Army of the Dead, Beyond the Sky), a social worker who tries to help the local sex workers, wants to find out who is responsible, especially after the woman panics and runs from the hospital and gets hit by a truck. This time she doesn’t survive. Lisa’s efforts are ridiculed by the local cops, mostly in the form of her ex, Jack (Wes Chatham, Escape Plan 2: Hades, The Town That Dreaded Sundown), and Sadie (Sydney Carvill, Lantern’s Lane, Keep in the Dark) whose uniform seems to consist of see-through tops and no bra.

Director Andy Armstrong (The New Adventures of Robin Hood, Moonshine Highway) and co-writer Burgio have made a film that screams “grindhouse” right from the start with a barrage of violence and nudity. When we see the viciously injured woman being examined at the hospital, Armstrong makes sure we see her breasts, after the truck hits her we get a shot of the pulped remains. And within the first half hour, we also see another naked woman hacked up, as well as the cop who dresses like an escort.

As it turns out a pig farmer nicknamed Squealer (Ronnie Gene Blevins, Joe, The Wave), along with Earline (Kate Moennig, Invitation to a Suicide, The L Word) brings home hookers, drugs them, and then hacks them up and makes sausages out of them. Sausages that Paul (Tyrese Gibson, Dangerous, The Collective), one of the local cops, is practically addicted to. He also occasionally disposes of bodies for a crossbow-toting mobster played by Theo Rossi (Sons of Anarchy, The Getback) in return for various pharmaceuticals.

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Squealer sounds like it should be the perfect retro film for those who say they don’t make them like that anymore. It gleefully tosses class and political correctness out the window and goes hard on bare flesh and bad taste. There’s even a dwarf policewoman thrown in, just so she can look extra short while stopping Paul and Jack from throwing down in the station.

Unfortunately, that’s really all Squealer has going for it, though. We know from the start who the killer is, so there’s no mystery beyond whether or not Sadie will poke someone’s eye out with a nipple. Character development never gets deeper than Lisa being mad that Jack flirts with Sadie even though she was the one who left him. We never get to know, or care, about any of the victims. Even Squealer’s motivation is shorthanded in a scene with his mother calling him a pussy and taking his favourite pig to be slaughtered.

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With a tighter script, the last twenty or so minutes could have been fairly intense as the various characters head towards a bloody final showdown. Instead, it becomes an unintentional comedy of errors. It also strikes out on the kills we want to see, with one happening off-screen and the other done with horrible CGI.

Maybe if they had gone over the top with it like Motel Hell did and made it a comedy, it could have been fun. Even adding songs and calling it Swiney Todd would have been an improvement. If you don’t care about anything beyond blood and boobs Squealer will probably drive you hog wild. Everyone else will find it a boar.

Squealer is available on Digital and VOD Platforms via Lionsgate.

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