A woman intensely digs through a trash can to mollify her hunger for rancid pork. When she finds her prize, she shovels it greedily into her mouth.
If this scene sounds disturbing, it’s because it’s meant to be.
Shot entirely in New Mexico, this film showcases the art of punk directing while embracing the very relevant subject of how trusting patrons are when they go out to eat.
Cult film director Jon Moritsugu’s award-winning film “Pig Death Machine” points out the significance of sanitation in restaurants.
“Pig Death Machine,” written by Moritsugu and the film’s lead actress Amy Davis, embodies a do-it-yourself, in-your-face attitude and at first glance appears to be a Gothic drug thriller. After a short opening that changes from black-and-white to color, it gains a new momentum. The two main characters, played by Davis and Venus Bogardus’ bassist Hannah Levbarg, have a junkie-like devotion for their newly found rotten meat fetish and go through major character changes to retain its mysterious power.
There is great use of the camera to capture mood and character complexity. Viewers will find themselves in the beautiful touristy environment of Santa Fe. Moritsugu does a great job establishing setting with shops and tourist traps in order to give viewers a glimpse of the culture embedded in the story.
The audio track is a major set-back though. Voices fade in and out and odd bangs suddenly blast through the speakers now and then.
The soundtrack is one of the best features of the film. It includes music from the likes of Deerhoof, Dirty Beaches, Polvo and Early Man. These tracks — essentially placed — give the scenes a depth that enriches the characters but never bogs down the pace.
The characters are thin, but the movie has action to move the plot along. Cocojoy (Davis) treats herself to a fancy lunch, only to be accidentally fed rancid pork. Luckily, the rancid meat gives her superpowers instead of killing her. Meanwhile, restaurant employee Lipton Sweet (Levbarg) eats some of the meat and starts her own super-powered transformation.
The 82 minute film has no rating, but has mature themes. In the end, viewers are left asking themselves, “Do we really want to eat that?”
Harwood Art Center,
1114 7th St. NW
Reception on Feb. 7, 6 to 8 p.m.