Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tribeca ’13: Fresh Meat

Insert your own family dinner joke here.  Or don’t bother.  New Zealander Danny Mulheron’s fearless cannibal comedy will make them all for us.  Questions of good taste will entirely depend on the viewer’s palate when Fresh Meat (trailer here) screens as a Midnight selection of the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival.

Rina Crane is a very proper young Maori lady who has come home from boarding school.  She is thinking it is about time to drop the lesbian bomb with her family, but they beat her to the punch, revealing the new family diet.  In hopes of finally achieving tenure, her academic father Hemi Crane has revived an ancient mystical cannibal cult.  Eating will flesh will give them supernatural powers or so the theory goes.  His new faith is about to be put to the test when a reckless gang of fugitives invades the Crane home.

For the freaked out Rina, this sudden turn of events is not all bad, largely because of Gigi, the ringleader’s less than enthusiastic girlfriend.  She happens to bear a strong resemblance to the fetish superhero character Rina created as a focus for her fantasies.  Clearly, the two share an instant attraction, at a time when Rina’s family loyalties are somewhat fraying.

Basically, Fresh combines elements of Desperate Hours with We Are What We Are, adding all kinds of politically incorrect humor.  At one point Hemi Crane declares: “we are not Maori cannibals, we are cannibals who happen to be Maori.”  Whew, feel better everybody?  The treatment of Lesbian themes is about as sensitive, with scenes clearly included for maximum leer value.  Oh right, there’s plenty of gore too.

You have to give Briar Grace-Smith’s screenplay credit for jumping on every third rail it could find.  Likewise, Temuera Morrison embraces the gleeful mayhem wholeheartedly as Hemi Crane.  As Rina, Hanna Tevita keeps her head above water amid all the bedlam, even conveying a measure of sensitive teen alienation.

If you don’t know by now whether this blood-splattered teen lesbian cannibal comedy is your cup of tea or not, I really can’t help you.  For what it’s worth, Mulheron maintains a brisk pace, allowing little time for the wrongness of it all to sink in.  Recommended for anyone out for some good clean fun at the movies, Fresh Meat screens again this Friday (4/26) and Saturday (4/27) as part of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.