Author Shannon Holmes turns director to bring his street-lit classic to the small screen in B’More Careful. Growing up on the cold, mean, inner-city streets of Baltimore is Netta (Phenomenal Jewel), leader of an all-girl clique called the Pussy Pound. Their mission is to fleece men out of money by any means necessary. The other members of the club include Mimi (Kimia Workman), Rasheeda (Christinia Cartier), and Fila (Deja Stevens).
Squealer oinks its way into of 2023’s worst
Stunt man Andy Armstrong ventures away from the action genre to true crime for his directorial debut in Squealer from Lionsgate. Armstrong and Danielle Burgio craft the script that vividly fictionalizes the terrifying and gruesome reign of Robert “Willy” Pickton, one of Canada’s most infamous serial killers. Pickton’s atrocities were previously explored in last year’s Pig Killer.
In a quiet and seemingly peaceful small town, a series of unsettling disappearances of young women who work as prostitutes have left the community on edge. The case draws the attention of Jack (Wes Chatham), an astute police officer, and his estranged wife, Lisa (Danielle Burgio), a street-smart social worker. As they follow the trail of clues, they are led to a remote yet eerie pig farm, where they uncover a horrifying truth. The local butcher, Ronnie Gene Blevins, has been bringing his work home, leaving behind a trail of gruesome evidence.
In watching numerous true crime documentaries over the years, I had heard of the “Pig Killer.” With it being close to Halloween, I’m always in the mood for a good horror flick. Sad to say, though, Squealer is one of my year’s worst. The film’s poster features R&B singer Tyrese Gibson front and center in a clever marketing campaign to pull in the female demographic hoping to see Mr. Gibson in all of his shea butter glory.
Gibson portrays Paul, a colleague of Jack, in a role that equates to fifteen minutes of the screen. Gibson has no purpose in the narrative other than to act overly thirsty towards his female co-workers and fall into the typical eighties token black guy trope. Similarly, Theo Rossi is heavily featured in the promo and has a limited role, although he does better than Gibson.
As for the male and female lead, neither brings anything of note to the film and has no chemistry as spouses. The cast members who deliver a performance of note are Blevins as the Squealer and Kate Moening as Earline, his unwilling accomplice. Nevertheless, I will give credit to the creatives behind the scenes for the realism in the violence. Given the subject matter, the film does not hold back in portraying the violence and brutality of Pickton’s crimes, which can be distressing for sensitive viewers.
The director’s lack of experience is apparent in the way the story unfolds, with pacing that feels uneven and a narrative structure that lacks cohesion. Additionally, the dialogue appears to be written in a formulaic manner, as if it was copied and pasted from a screenwriting software program.
Squealer is a film that falls short in various aspects, including its poor production quality and lifeless performances from the cast. The narrative fails to offer a compelling and impactful portrayal of a significant chapter in true crime history. The film’s lack of character depth and development makes it challenging to connect with or root for any characters.
Final Grade: D+
Squealer is in Theaters, On Digital, and On Demand this Friday, November 3rd
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