Entertaining but overdone
Directed by Danny Mulheron
How do you like your splatter: Raw, medium-rare or over-done? Those who prefer the latter are in luck with director Danny Mulheron's debut Fresh Meat, about a regular middle-class Maori family of cannibals. They're not cannibals because they're Maori, mind. It's a lifestyle choice.
You should know whether you're into this movie or not after the opening five minutes, which lay on the gratuitous violence, nudity, and parodic inter-titles to such an extent as to almost boil over before it's begun.
Rina (Hanna Tevita) has returned home for holidays from her exclusive all-girls boarding school to find something a bit awry with her family.
Father Hemi Crane (Tem Morrison) may have always had a bit of a chip on his shoulder about the fact he's an unpublished academic, while his wife Margaret (Nicola Kawana) is a hugely successful cookbook author. But Rina notices that he's started becoming a bit more warped in his cultural predilections, and even her mother's cooking is a bit strong. Before she can come to terms with it, a group of inept gangsters raid the house, with the usual mayhem ensuing.
Fresh Meat's targets include, in no particular order, celebrity chefs, cult leaders, scoutmasters, snooty boarding schools, Asian triad gangs, and the Green Party. The acting is all over the shop, even for a film that's ostensibly parodic.
Thank goodness Morrison plays Hemi as straight as possible, until the conclusion, when things just go for the jugular. It's surprising he's never featured in a comedy before, as he has a gift for the absurd.
Similarly, some of the set pieces are impressive, most notably the initial raid. There's also a homegrown flavour in how it skewers cultural stereotypes, while the gay-rights friendly conclusion is suitably subversive.
Fresh Meat seemingly operates by a checklist designed by a hormonal adolescent: Plot and character is subservient to car crashes, lesbian shower scenes, explosions, and arms getting chopped off. Fair enough, but Mulheron has so much fun with it that he never gets the tone settled. I can't help but take this all with a pinch of salt. Entertaining but curious.
The Timaru Herald