Swine: The Complete Trilogy (2010) – By Cary Conley

In the near future, the Earth has suffered an apocalypse. In this post-apocalyptic world, two factions fight for world domination. The Colonialists are a sophisticated and highly organized group of fighters with plenty of money, weapons, and soldiers. Vox Populi are the rebel forces, the partisans, who are constantly struggling, not just with the Colonialists, but also for more resources to continue their uprising. Vox Populi are the underdogs, in constant need of more money, more weapons, more soldiers. Swine is the story of the struggle between these two forces.

Initially divided into three separate films, each running approximately 15 minutes, the complete trilogy is now available on one DVD for the first time. Each short tells the ongoing saga of the fight between the Colonialists and the rebels, but focuses on different main characters. As with any rebel force fighting an uphill battle with a stronger, more powerful and more focused enemy, Vox Populi is always teetering on the brink of collapse as partisans with different agendas and morphing philosophies work to ensure their personal safety, putting their needs before the needs of the group. This sets the stage for continuous struggles, from both internal and external forces. Danger lurks around every corner, sometimes from Colonial soldiers and sometimes from a rebel fighter who has decided to change allegiance for a few pieces of silver.

Perhaps best described as a cross between Mad Max and The Terminator, but on a smaller scale, the filmmakers have done a superb job in creating a post-apocalyptic future with high-quality production values on a miniscule budget (approximately $5,000 per episode). I was very impressed with the look and feel of this series. Lensed entirely in the southern California area, the film nevertheless is one of the most accurate depictions of what a post-apocalyptic world might look like I’ve ever seen on film, regardless of budgetary restrictions. The set locations and production design are superb and really help to establish a feeling of hopelessness for the characters’ situation. Many of the actual locations used have a World War II feel to them, with broken walls and rubble strewn around. The look of the film also contributes to the overall bleak tone as well. It has a washed-out look, filled with muted colors like camouflage green, yellow, and various shades of gray and brown.

The characters are all quirky but strong. The costumes also reminded me of Mad Max, particularly the rebel forces, who wear a mish-mash of clothing and weird designs that suit their particular needs as well as their personalities. It is a combination of utilitarian clothing but with personal flair, such as the machine gunner with a leather mask or the highway robber with his coat and top hat. Along with costume design, the prop design is also creative and quirky. The filmmakers spent a great deal of time in designing their weapons, from huge, 50 caliber-sized guns to palm-sized pistols and everything in between. Because this is the future, the weapons are all lasers, and the optical effects are simple here but quite effective, with laser shots flying around similar to Star Wars. There are also some simple physical effects, primarily wounds caused by laser shots to the body. Again, these are quite effective although very basic .

Another high point is the score. It is clear that these filmmakers love spaghetti westerns, as the series is designed in such a way that each episode contains several gunfights. The score is designed in such a way as to highlight the similarities between Swine and any number of 1960’s westerns. While it is an original score, it is highly stylized and most certainly influenced by some of the great western scores of all time, and fits perfectly into this film.

Populated by numerous quirky characters, all with hidden agendas, the acting ranges from merely average to excellent, as is typical of a micro-budgeted affair. But for the most part, the acting is very good and the characters are believable. There are a great deal of female characters, which is perhaps unique to this film, which could be classified as an action or war picture. I found the two or three main female characters to be the strongest, plus it doesn’t hurt to have lots of pretty faces on screen!

I found Swine to be a very entertaining trilogy of film shorts. The series has proven to be popular enough that the good people at Well-Oiled Machine Productions are now raising money to create two more shorts to round out the series into a full-blown feature. The DVD is a nice package, featuring all three films (with an option to watch them separately or as one continuous feature), a short "Making of" featurette, and lots of behind-the-scenes stills. Plus, the DVD comes with a digital copy as well. For more information, please go to www.swinemovie.com or if you would like to make a donation to help finance the transformation of this film into a full-blown feature, you can go to www.IndieGoGo.com/Swine.