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[Fantasia ’22] ‘The King of Pigs’ review: Emotional look at childhood trauma and bullying

A strange mix.

The King of Pigs is the first television series to ever screen at the Fantasia Film Festival. The first animated feature from Train to Busan director Yeon Sang-ho, the story follows a serial killer who not only leaves messages at the crimes scenes directly addressed to homicide detective Jong-suk (Kim Sung-kyu), he has also identifies himself. During middle school Kyung-min (Kim Dong-wook) was beaten, bullied, humiliated, and tormented. Twenty years later, he is exacting his revenge, but how does Jong-suk factor into it all?

The first four episodes were screened at Fantasia and engage audiences while also showcasing an interesting tendency in the storytelling. The show is a mix of modern events and childhood flashbacks. Scenes shown from previous decades are emotionally impacting. They are easily the most powerful moments in The King of Pigs. Along with providing backstory to Kyung-min and Jong-suk, they are very disturbing. Viewers will be uncomfortable seeing what Kyung-min had to go through.

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These moments give insight into the attitudes of the two main characters. It is not until the fourth episode that the effects on Jong-suk start to become a little more clear. By that time, it has been explained how Jong-suk was involved in Kyung-min’s life. This revelation also explains why the detective makes certain decisions and acts a certain way. The writing is strong here in that most will find it a foregone conclusion what happened between the two students. When it is revealed what connection the two had, it comes as a huge shock.

[Fantasia '22] 'The King of Pigs' review: Emotional look at childhood trauma and bullying

Looking back on the first four episodes, it is a deep dive into how long buried trauma effects people in different ways. The first three parts of The King of Pigs is about setting up the story with a focus on Kyung-Min. By the time of the chaotic fourth episode, it is obvious both men carry scars from their school days together. It also adds emotion to the adult storylines that has been missing.

That may be the biggest takeaway from the series. When the plot goes back to middle school, it is very impactful and moving. They are the most difficult parts to watch but also intriguing. For better and worse, they will remain with viewers. The grown up scenes are less interesting. The suspension of disbelief required gets more difficult as The King of Pigs continues and the characters are just not as interesting. It remains a compelling watch, but is a surprising dichotomy that takes away from much of the good done.

The King of Pigs is screening at the Fantasia Festival and comes to Shudder in August

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