Reviewbr> "Please don't judge me by my colour. I might be white but I've got a Maori heart." - Shaun Armstrong
After a prison van breakout, that involved ultra violence, a gang of desperados do the home invasion thing in a McMansion suburb taking hostage a middle class Maori family. This doesn't work out quite as well as our criminals might have thought. Besides the Police closing in, the family puts the "dy" in dysfunctional. Hemi Crane is a University Lecturer, who is bringing back that old time religion, Margaret Crane is a famous Chef with books and television show credits, Rina Crane - the daughter - is a lesbian school girl, and son Glenn plays cricket. Okay so the Cranes are living the middle class dream but are doing so by bringing some Texas Chainsaw Massacre to the 'burbs. Hemi's religion involves cannibalism, which Margaret doesn't seem to have a problem with, and explains the slaughter house in the basement. Food hygiene is important people, and don't bruise the meat.
No prizes for guessing who is on the menu. In another example of being careful when it comes to dealing with Suburbanites, our would be gangstas are whittled down one by one, with their only hope being the Police who are slowly zeroing in on the house that dripped blood, and problematically Shaun Armstrong, the boy from across the street who has a thing for Rina. There are a couple of twists coming at you in the plot, let's check out what's marinating in the fridge.
New Zealand is building a reputation for producing splatter comedy classics that leverage a hell of a lot of laughs as the blood goes down. We're talking movies of the calibre of Peter Jackson's Braindead (1992) and Jonathan King's Black Sheep (2006). Now we can add to the list the outstandingly outrageous Fresh Meat that manages to take a backwoods cabin and drop it into the utopia of the Kiwi middle class suburbia. While the movie probably won't be seen by a lot of people it deserves a much wider audience, your normal dark genre fans should be lapping this out of control mayhem up. Unfortunately even the hard core gore fans are more apt to catch heavily promoted Hollywood fare or movies by Europeans than local product. Sucks to be us, no wonder the genre struggles in this part of the world.
Fresh Meat mixes in a bunch of Grindhouse aesthetics, a mixture of backwoods massacre spice, and a whole hell of a lot of comedy, stirs well, and brings to a simmer. If you have spent any time in the dark genre woods you'll be nodding your head in approval over the content of this movie that touches bases with a whole bunch of dark genre concepts from exploitation to core horror concepts, but importantly does so while never taking itself seriously. Fresh Meat is out to do nothing more than entertain the general audience while winking at horror fans. To cut to the chase you are going to have a ball with this one, just add a lightly spiced tomato sauce.
The movie kicks off with a girls shower room scene of the sort that is dragged giggling from a women's prison movie or a slasher flick. Director Danny Mulheron isn't wasting any time in laying down his agenda, there's tropes to be included from low budget dark genre fare, and the Director is going to appropriate every opportunity to use those tropes that present themselves in setting the basic plotline up. Continuing the Grindhouse theme Mulheron includes a prison van breakout and gun battle that is so obvious a kiwi interpretation of an exploitation effort, continued camera focus on Kate Elliot's arse as she goes shotgun pumping hellion, that I was high fiving my Wacky Wobbler figurines. So no we aren't talking a movie that is being aimed at the wine and cheese set, this is going to be splatter comedy and by hell I was rocking to that concept.
This movie is crying out for a sequel, hell it could produce a Maori Freddy Krueger, now that's something I'd pay to see.
I absolutely loved the introduction of the idea of our suburbanites being cannibals; it was such a middle class moment. Rina, home from school and the girls shower room, goes to the fridge to check out some snacks. She is confronted by a marinating human hand. To a shocked daughter Margaret Crane announces they have had a change in lifestyle. It's moments like this, and they are sprinkled throughout the movie, that will make you an instant fan of the writing and comedic timing of the Actors. We're talking the horror coming in from the woods to the normally staid Kiwi middle class suburbs, with the take it in their stride attitude of Kiwi Suburbanites to the fore.
Writer Smith hits some boundaries with a number of recurrent ideas that are used to build throughout the movie. Hemi is constantly snipping at Margaret due to her huge success as a published Chef and his body of work which remains unpublished. Hemi blames the Pakeha, white New Zealand, for holding back the Maori, not noting the irony in it. There's a line Hemi delivers when the Police are closing in that really nails this idea. Equally Shaun, the boy from across the street with a thing for the lesbian Rina, constantly tries to be more Maori than the Cranes. Hemi demonstrates the Nation's contempt for the sort of PC person who Shaun represents. Margaret remains blissfully middle class matronly as the movie moves from one chaotic moment to the next, constantly dropping lines that are hilarious in their naivety. Her seafood line is almost worth the price of admission alone; see the movie to get the gag there. I'm not going to bruise the meat by giving any more away here.
Okay have put this off long enough, yes Director Danny Mulheron looks at a bucket of gore and then decides to splash it all over the screen. We're talking severed limbs, a body count that surprisingly keeps on growing, and a basement slaughterhouse that Leatherface would have approved of. If the concept of corpses being cut up doesn't sound like something you want to sit down to, then you are in the wrong movie, there's a new Julia Andrews out shortly I believe. The overriding concept here of course is splatter not gore, the Peter Jackson approach of layering it on to such an extent that it becomes humorous in a sort of Monty Python fashion.
Out of room here but a couple of more things to touch bases with before closing out, sorry for the length of this review. The ending of the movie is going to raise some debate as to its meaning and I for one have my fingers crossed that it kicks off a sequel. No spoilers kids watch the movie to catch a shock ending that like a lot of scenes in the movie presents the audience with a wink to a famous horror flick. I was also impressed with the Acting, some of it might seem a little wooden but character requirements, the Actors are delivering on what the script dictates.
I was fanging to catch a viewing of Fresh meat having arrived in New Zealand after the movie's cinema run. Took a while to arrive on DVD, but got to say the wait was well worth it. We get a splatter comedy film with recurrent ideas used to good effect with a mixture of Grindhouse and backwoods massacre being presented in a suburban setting. I'm going to give a full recommendation to folk who enjoy a bit of humour mixed in with their horror fun times. Fresh Meat is unapologetic in twisting the tropes of horror and exploitation to new shapes; I'm going in for seconds, some mighty fine eating here.