Prolific director Izzy Lee knows her way around horror, and has found success in her works boasting absurdist humor, as well. Her latest short film Meat Friend combines both of those styles to fun effect.
Imagine mashing up the trappings of a children’s television show or family sitcom with a sociopath host/main character and you’re off to a good start about the basics of Meat Friend. Now envision that main role being a sentient lump of ground beef. Young Billie (Marnie McKendry) awakens this bizarre, barbaric burger when she tries to microwave meat. The titular beef — brought to cinematic life by way of a hilarious hand puppet and the voice talents of Steve Johanson, who cowrote the screenplay with Lee — refers to Billie as “children,” no matter how many times she corrects him, and tries to teach her life lessons about shivs and creatively disposing of people, among other things.
McKendry does a fine job as Billie, having her character walk the fine line between adorable and annoying. Her interactions with Meat Friend are a blast, and she also has good comical chemistry with Megan Duffy (of Maniac and All the Creatures Were Stirring, as well as Lee’s microshort Memento Mori which, along with Meat Friend, is currently on the festival circuit), who plays an amusing supporting role here as her mom.
Lee (Re-Home, My Monster, Innsmouth) works with a bright color palette that further enhances the family television show premise while subverting that genre with images and dialogue that would never fly on such shows. The result is an outrageous horror comedy short that serves as further proof that the obviously capable Lee needs to be given the opportunity to helm a feature film project sooner rather than later.(3.5 / 5)
Meat Friend screened as part of Portland Horror Film Festival, which took place June 29–July 3, 2022 in Portland, Oregon, with an online streaming option for U.S. residents. For more information, visit https://portlandhorrorfilmfestival.com/.