Reviews | Written by Martin Unsworth 16/04/2022

MEAT FRIEND (Short Film)

We’ve been fans of Izzy Lee’s work for quite some time. Often making thoughtful but challenging shorts such as Legitimate (2013) and Postpartum (2015) as well as the H.P. Lovecraft interpretation Innsmouth (2015). We’ve come to expect some level of socio-political commentary. This brings us to Meat Friend, a light-hearted satire featuring a psychopathic piece of ground beef.

Billie (Marnie McKendry) makes the mistake of popping some raw hamburger meat into the microwave. This, in turn, becomes a sentient entity, the titular Meat Friend (voiced by co-writer Steve Johanson). Just like the product in its raw state, Meat Friend is a decidedly unhealthy influence on Billie. His character is Mr Rogers mixed with Charles Manson and he proceeds to teach Billie some valuable life lessons. How to tie your shoelaces? Nope… more like how to make a shiv.

Meat Friend might feel like quite a departure for director and co-writer Izzy Lee, but underneath the fun exterior, there’s a dark level that is far more delicious than the glob of processed meat. The opening montage features the whole production line of beef - from delightful cows grazing to the hanging carcases, and finally, the minced meat goodness. All juxtaposed with some cheery kids’ TV-style music. The mixing of styles continues with the title character, a simple puppet with a gruff, aggressive tone but strangely endearing. Marnie McKendry does well as the youngster, a role that could easily have been annoying. She also comes out with this writer’s favourite expression since, well… anything from The Greasy Strangler, “More beef - less cheese!”

Filmed during the lockdown, Meat Friend is a fun short that is well worth checking out if it plays at a festival near you.