I’m willing to give any horror comedy a chance, especially if it’s a single-location horror comedy like this one. Sure, it has its flaws but I’m sure fans of the genre and anyone else who’s interested in seeing something a bit different will appreciate it. Fresh Meat is a New Zealand horror comedy about a dysfunctional family taken hostage by a gang of criminals. It’s gory, stylish, and just so fucking charming that I’m sure you’re going to love it. At this point, I should tell you that I have a thing for the New Zealand accents, I’m sorry, New Zeeeeland accent. As soon as I hear it I start smiling and get this warm and fuzzy feeling in my tummy.
And Fresh Meat is a distinctly New Zealand movie with a focus on the Maori culture. This gives it a special and dare I say exotic flavor. I don’t want to sound like one of the characters in this movie, Shaun, who’s a Whaori. I guess that’s the appropriate term, considering similar ones in America. The movie opens with a steamy scene featuring nudity and then closes shop for that department. There will be a couple of sexy scenes almost bordering on sleazy but still tongue-in-cheek enough to be acceptable. This gives the movie a distinct Grindhouse atmosphere.
The production values along with practical effects are excellent throughout. There will be quite a few scenes of graphic violence with delectably bloody details. Something that all you horror fans out there will love. They’re seamlessly blended with a combination of situational and conversational comedy. However, I would like to point out that amidst this eye-grabbing combination a more intelligent narrative is left in the shadows. It’s character-driven, something that I figured out only in the final third of the movie. So, do keep an eye on family dynamics here and archetypical family roles for maximum fun.
Young Rina Crane is finally starting to love her life in boarding school. So, she feels naturally sad that she has to go home for the holidays and be with her dysfunctional family. At the same time, a ruthless criminal Richie Tan escapes police custody with the help of his gang. Now on the run, they’re looking for a place to lay low. They find themselves in this middle-class suburb and upon seeing an open garage door they just ram their car into it. And so the plight of the Crane family begins.
When it comes to the cast of Fresh Meat, I’m sure you’re going to recognize Temuera Morrison. I remember him as Jake Heke from a nineties masterpiece Once Were Warriors although he reached world fame as Boba Fet in The Mandalorian. However, young and dashing Hanna Tevita stole the show here as feisty Rina. I would also like to add that it was very refreshing to see a Maori movie that’s not some gut-wrenching drama but an upbeat and fun horror comedy.
In the first half of the movie, the story unfolds at a breakneck pace only slowing down a couple of times. The second half is still pacey but more focused on dialogue and gory action. I don’t want to reveal anything about the plot but since the release of this movie, there’ve been several very similar horror comedies. When it comes to home invasion movies, Mother’s Day starring Rebecca De Mornay also features a similar plot. Only that’s a straight-up horror without any comedic elements. For that, you will have to check out The Perfect Host.
Finally, I do want to say that New Zealand has a long and rich history of horror comedies starting with Peter Jackson’s movies Bad Taste and Braindead. And if we’re talking about more recent releases, do check out hilarious Black Sheep, Housebound, and my personal favorite Deathgasm.
Director: Danny Mulheron
Writers: Brad Abraham, Joseph O’Brien, Briar Grace Smith
Cast: Temuera Morrison, Hanna Tevita, Nicola Kawana, Kate Elliott, Nicola Kawana, Ralph Hilaga
Fun Facts: The song Puha and Pakeha, popular in sixties, was used in promotion of this movie. Since it features spoilers, I will just leave this link describing what it’s about.