Amelia Wade is a court reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Kiwi cannibalism movie fails to get its teeth into viewing public

Critics have said that despite the gory subject matter, Fresh Meat, starring Temuera Morrison (front), lacks guts. Photo / Supplied
Critics have said that despite the gory subject matter, Fresh Meat, starring Temuera Morrison (front), lacks guts. Photo / Supplied

A New Zealand horror-comedy about cannibalism flopped during its opening weekend bringing in little more than $10,500 - a screen average of just $319.

Fresh Meat, starring Temuera Morrison, received $2.5 million in funding from the New Zealand Film Commission, which admitted the film opened softer than it would have liked.

Critics have also given the movie lukewarm reviews, with one saying despite its gory subject, the film lacks guts.

But Morrison and the commission hope the film will recoup some of its potential losses with DVD sales and television airtime.

Fresh Meat, written by Briar Grace-Smith and directed by Danny Mulheron, is the story of a dysfunctional gang of criminals who take a middle-class Maori family hostage but then discover too late that they are cannibals.

The commission's chief executive, Graeme Mason, said the film opened "softer than one would have hoped".

He blamed the sunny weather at the weekend, which he said meant most films had lower earnings than usual.

"Weather is a huge influence ... often we do a rain dance when we've got a film opening."

He said the film had a "long life", especially because it had a younger demographic and people of that age group were harder to get to cinemas.

"When we get a film, we don't just look at the opening weekend, which is obviously very important. But we look at how it goes in the cinema, then of course to DVD, television, legal downloads and that is a key way of how younger people watch movies."

The film-makers and distributors were still working on promoting Fresh Meat, especially around Halloween.

Fresh Meat was launched at the Armageddon expo and Mr Mason said it has been publicised as a cult film.

In an interview with TimeOut, Morrison said he might have to leave the country after people see his latest film, in which he plays one of the cannibals.

"It's quite out-there," he said. "It's not everyone's cup of tea but we'll see what happens. I might be on the first plane to Rarotonga."

Entertainment magazine Variety said in a review: "The cheerfully vulgar screenplay works fine while everyone is still alive, but begins to flag when lunch begins."

The Herald's Scott Kara gave the film three stars.

"Fresh Meat is out to shock and horrify, but also have an almighty great laugh and not take itself too seriously.

"However, the film could do with being more extreme and horrifying, while still maintaining the laughs, which would have lent it more clout.

"Fresh Meat lacks, well, guts."

- NZ Herald

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