[Review] Meat Friend [Portland Horror Film Festival]: A Young Girl Befriends Gruesome Ground Beef in Horror Comedy Short

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 out of 5 stars (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/.

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.