Squeal Review: What happens when you combine a fairy tale with dark humor?

by Hailey Greg

Once upon a time in a land far far away, there used to be fairy tales that would tell grim stories and uncover the dark side of human nature. Directed by Aik Karapetian, Squeal is one such fairy tale that is a blend of modern-day Disney-like stories and the macabre fairy tale of the past with pitch-black humor. 

Squeal attempts to blend a befuddling tone with a disconcerting experience and does it quite perfectly. It should be noted that it combines these disparate elements cohesively and makes the experience a whole lot unsettling.

Kevin Janssens plays the role of Samuel or Chef, as he likes to be called. Chef is looking for his father in a strange country when he comes across a pig making his way through the middle of the road. Unable to speak the local language, Chef has no idea of what is going on around him. That’s when he comes across a woman searching for the pig. The woman’s name is Kirke, played by Laura Silina,  and she takes her home and gives him a place to stay. However, when her pig-farmer father shows up, they tie Samuel with a chain and remove his cloth. They start to torture him like a pig, feeding him slop and threatening to chop him as the food for their pigs. Samuel tries to charm Kirke and his father and comes across a magical pig who guides him the way towards salvation. 

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After Samuel knows for sure what Kirke’s father’s plans are, he reveals a disturbing story underneath its sparse surface. He becomes increasingly feral and gets on his knees to bark like a dog in formal attire. This unsettling scene reveals the many startling events of the fairy tale. The actor Janssens has done a remarkable job to portray such a difficult character while keeping the audience engaged. He slowly starts to slip into a Stockholm Syndrome-like state and even though he wants to escape he is unable to. 

Also, Samuel’s growing relationship with Kirke is also disturbing but interesting because she was the one to trap him in the first place. As the story progresses we find out that Kirke likes to be with a man who listens to her because she has had a terrible childhood at the hand of her father. It was important that Kirke’s true feelings were narrated otherwise her intentions may not have been obvious to the audience. 

And if we see this is just another fairytale as Samuel is in a strange country, a land far far away where he is not familiar with the culture and the locals but still manages to charm the local princesses, Kirke in this case, whose father reminds you of an old-fashioned villain in the way of love. A classic fairy tale in a sense. However, Squeal is not only about romance as it is filled with unsettling events and dark comedy that is not enjoyable for everyone. 

Squeal was released in theaters on August 19 and has a runtime of 85 minutes. 

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