Directed by: Max Sobol
Written by: Matt Hynds
Starring: George Potts, Tracey Wiles, Adam Fitzgerald
Found footage horror is not the most original of genres. Neither is mockumentary. Yet, in his new film Meat is Murder, Max Sobol manages to bring a fresh feel to both genres by smashing them together to create a stylish and charmingly dark new short.
Meat is Murder follows Patrick (Adam Fitzgerald), a filmmaker who has decided to make a documentary on a group of vegan vigilantes. Given the name “The Vegilantes” by their awkward leader, Steven (George Potts), the vegans are a mixed bag of individuals with differing attitudes on how to achieve the goal of promoting their strongly held beliefs. The group begins to edge from being comically inept to something truly sinister as Julie (Tracy Wiles) starts encouraging the others to follow her more extreme methods.
Written by Matt Hynds and directed by Max Sobol, Meat is Murder treads the familiar fine line of a horror-comedy with style. The comedy elements certainly come off stronger than the horror, but the film remains sinister, with the highlight being a particularly creepy discovery through the haze of night vision goggles. The mockumentary technique allows for some classic The Office style cringe humour, which is delivered exquisitely by the cast. It really is very funny.
The mixing of the mockumentary/found footage styles is handled well by Sobol and cinematographer Rob Wilton. It is the key to how the film manages to work within both genres, cleverly mixing the comedic zooms and lingering takes of a mockumentary with the tension building investigative point of view and shaky cam of a horror flick. Also, as a nice plus, the film remains very clear and easy to watch, which is something that quite a few films of this type still fail to achieve.
Beneath the comedy and horror is an underlying political and social theme. The film is making comment on both veganism and extremism in general. However, unlike Sobol’s earlier work The Photographer which seemed to almost predict the future with its thrilling look at the truth of the camera, Meat is Murder seems to be slightly behind in its politics. The film has some clever moments, such as hilarious displays of ineffective protest, but having vegans as the centre of both its humour and its politics fails to reflect the current climate in which veganism is beginning to become more accepted. Within the context of the film this all works perfectly, and the humour never struggles to hit home, but the overall impact of the film is lessened somewhat.
As mentioned, the horror side of Meat is Murder falls a tad short, but that is a small complaint to have about what is ultimately a cracking comedic short that finds originality in old methods and uses it to keep you enthralled in its awkward and unsettling world.
If you would like to watch Meat is Murder, it is available for free at https://www.meatismurderfilm.com/.