Horror is one of my least favourite genres in the short film format. Riddled with clichés and populated with predictable plots, for a bracket of storytelling focussed on scares, I’ve always been somewhat put-off with the lack of surprises in these spooky shorts. This certainly isn’t the case with Lucy Campbell’s 17-minute film The Pig Child – a film that forgoes frights in favour of a building dread that crawls under your skin and messes with your mind.
A modern retelling of the Frankenstein story inspired by contemporary scientific discoveries, Campbell’s short will initially grab you with its disturbing premise, but will keep you compelled with its character-driven approach. Propelled throughout by a commanding performance by Catherine Steadman (playing surrogate scientist Rosa),The Pig Child is a film firmly based in reality and it’s the believability of the piece that truly makes it such an unsettling experience.
Admitting, in discussion with Short of the Week, the she wanted to create “a film which combined a horrible but worryingly possible idea with a tactile sense of how it might feel to be the woman scientist”, director Campbell really focuses her audiences attention on getting inside the mind of her central character. “In the past, cutting edge scientists (for example, Pierre and Marie Curie), have been driven to use their own bodies in order to get around ethical restrictions and permissions, and advance their own experimentation”, Campbell reveals and throughout her short it truly feels as if she is pushing her viewers to carefully contemplate what has driven Rosa to put her own body (and mind) through such an ordeal.
With the idea of the pig/human embryo becoming a reality recently, Campbell is now working on a feature-length film once again based in the world of stem cell organ regeneration. She has also just commissioned by Film 4 to create a 5 minute horror short for Halloween 2016. Lets hope both of which are as unforgiving and unforgettable as The Pig Child.