Piggy - Brutal vigilante thriller puts the boot in - and it's the viewer who feels stomped on

British writer-director Kieron Hawkes (opens in new tab) makes his feature film debut with Piggy (opens in new tab), a sickeningly violent revenge thriller in which a shy London messenger boy becomes a psychopathic vigilante's uneasy sidekick. Paul Anderson (opens in new tab)'s homicidal avenger Piggy seems to spring fully formed from the unconscious of the grief-stricken Joe (Martin Compston (opens in new tab)) after a gang of louts kills his adored elder brother John (Neil Maskell (opens in new tab)). Claiming to be one of John's old friends, Piggy turns up on Joe's doorstep soon afterwards and cajoles him into accompanying him on his murderous campaign of retribution.

As the rangy Piggy and his runty accomplice track down the culprits one by one, their victims won't be the only ones flinching from the blows. Amplified by the film's bludgeoning sound design, the bone-crunching violence is unrelenting and repellent. Hawkes clearly thinks he's making a statement about the psychology of revenge, but his ideas remain fuzzy thanks to the film's terrible script. Indeed, from the clunky dialogue and dreary voice-over narration, it sounds as if Hawkes has swallowed a GCSE psychology textbook and regurgitated gobbets of half-digested psychobabble all over the screenplay.

Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.