“Fresh Meat”: Lesbian Criminals, Cannibalism and Sexy Accents

Directed by Danny Mulheron and shot on location in New Zealand, Fresh Meat is equal parts bloody and campy.

When we meet the Tan Brothers gang at the beginning of the 2012 Kiwi film, things play out like some twisted version of Romeo and Juliet, where the Montague boys take a joy ride to a gas station and blow up the place. Similar are the minds of Richie, his on-and-off again girlfriend Gigi (Kate Elliot), Paulie and Johnny. These aren’t mafia mobsters, they’re career criminals who frequently find themselves in a nasty bind, almost getting themselves killed by some comic twist of destiny. Enter the vixen in pink who knows how to take aim, manipulate any man, and leave us wondering if she’s playing for our team. (She has to be!) Without Gigi, these brothers wouldn’t be criminals, they’d be dead meat.

Rina (Hanna Tevita), a Maori teen attending an elite all-girls boarding school, is apparently down with getting close and soapy in the dorm showers with her schoolmates. She’s coming home to her family — her writer father Hemi Crane (Temuera Morrison), celebrity chef mother Margaret Crane (Nicola Kawana), and teenage brother Glenn (Kahn West). Her first night back home, Rina finds a disturbing entree in the refrigerator — it appears to be a human hand, sitting in a bloody sauce, garnished with rosemary. Yum! Someone call The Addams Family.

Without putting up much of a fight, her parents come clean about something they’ve been hiding from her for years, something even her brother is in on — they eat people. Horrified by this, Rina sits in daze, visions of homemade meatballs and pork stews swirling in her head, when suddenly, a loud crash is heard from the garage. Enter the Tan Brothers, and of course, short-shorts wearing Gigi. They’ve just barreled into the house, crashing their getaway car into the garage while a police helicopter hovers above, hot on their trail.

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Rina must now handle the fact that she’s living in a household of cannibals, and they’ve all just become hostages. Yes, people-eating hostages. It doesn’t take long to figure out that Rina is more than a little starry-eyed over Gigi. For one, Rina has a poster hanging on her bedroom wall of a fierce warrior woman she drew up, and she coincidentally looks exactly like badass Gigi. When Gigi’s sort-of boyfriend tries attacking Rina, Gigi simply shoots his head off. Hey, the girl saw that poster on the wall and thought, “This teenage girl has good taste, why let her die?”

Most endearing of all—she keeps calling Rina a “kid.” Somehow, all of these weird foreplay-like vibes are a major turn-on for Rina, and Gigi too, for that matter. The girls playfully make eyes at each other amid blazing guns and dismembered body parts. I find myself not completely caring about the discovery that’s just been made under the floorboards of the Crane home: a sterile-looking basement that stores “the meat,” where the Cranes keep newly murdered bodies fresh.

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But now Hemi, the blood-thirsty father, has absolutely lost it. He’s killing people left and right; one Tan Brother after the next is going down. Eventually, and not exactly surprisingly, he turns on his own family, threatening Rina, his “virgin daughter” as some kind of sacrificial rite for which he must drink her blood. It’s his path to immortality, and it’s also a really bent perspective on women and their virginity/sexuality.

Thankfully, Rina lets her dad know that she’s, ahem, accidentally fallen on a few of the boarding school girls’ shampoo bottles.Time to remind you this is horror-comedy. The goriness is unusual, but the energy will keep you highly entertained. (I do warn, however, that there’s one scene in particular involving a bloody penis and a sink that I don’t recommend watching with both eyes open.) But back to Rina and Gigi. When are they going to get their Thelma and Louise on and ditch these suckers? Yes, of course we want to see them ride off gallantly into the night together — a fast car, an endless highway, no men to drink their blood or call the shots ever again.

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But first, this hostage situation must reach a boiling point. Countless bodies have stacked up in the Crane’s butcher pantry of a basement, where both Gigi and Rina have been hung up on chains with no way out. By the grace of skill and what is undoubtedly the standout scene in the film (aside from another scene in which Gigi douses herself in milk), Rina is able to get Gigi and herself out of this knot through one compromising position. Did I mention Gigi is hanging upside down?

Spoiling how it all ends would be too easy. I’ll just say this much: There are explosions, body parts, a fireworks display of a kiss, and a little ode to Carrie and other horror films that give you one final good jump. Look no further than Fresh Meat for two Sapphic babes who will stop at nothing to have it all: brains, beauty and a whole lotta corn syrupy blood.

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Fresh Meat is now available on iTunes and Video On Demand.

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