June 4, 2020

Secret Family Recipe (2013) – Meaty Lifestyle Maintenance

Secret Family RecipeFor this week’s #ShortMovieMonday I’m reviewing the 2nd flick from film production company Get Coned Productions called Secret Family Recipe.  It stars Lisa Arcaro and Chris Durand as a married couple who have gone to some extreme measures to maintain their lifestyle in light of some economic hardships.

SPOILER ALERT: This review WILL talk openly about the plot of the film. If you want to experience the film as it was intended watch it before reading this review.  Full film is embedded at the end of this post.

THE PLOT: The movie opens with Anne (Lisa Arcaro) in her kitchen prepping for a dinner party.  She turns on the radio and the local newscaster reports a story of how Vince The Magician has been arrested when it was the storage unit he was renting was found to contain several mutilated bodies.  This is a reference to the previous Get Coned film Self Storage.

Arthur (Chris Durrand) returns home from the store and its made clear rather quickly that Anne and Arthur’s marriage isn’t the greatest. Anne tells Arthur that she’s invited another set of neighbors to today’s barbecue, and Arthur isn’t a fan of the couple.  After some whining from Arthur, Anne tells him to get enough “meat” for everyone and to definitely “Pull out enough ribs.

From here, Arthur proceeds to enter his garage where he’s got a man, Tom (Mitchell Herrin) tied up.  It becomes readily apparent that Arthur and Anne are in fact cannibals and the special “meat” and “ribs” that will be served are from Tom.  We learn that in addition to Tom, Arthur has already served Tom’s family and he’s got his daughter (still alive) in the freezer.

Through several minutes of exposition, Arthur explains how because of increased government taxes and his wife’s inability to change her lifestyle, he’s had to take measures to keep up their appearances.  This includes finding an alternative source of “meat”.  Toward the end of this monologue, Arthur lays it out very succinctly by saying, “And that’s why you and your beautiful family are here Tom. You’re the only “meat” I can afford.”

Tom manages to escape, but only after Arthur has bludgeoned his daughter in the freezer to death.  Tom looks in the freezer (we don’t see his daughter) and closes the door and proceeds to attack Arthur.  It appears that he’s going to get the upper hand but he’s hit in the back of the head with meat tenderizer by Anne who’s come back into the garage.

Next up is a scene where Arthur cuts open Tom’s shirt and proceeds to remove his ribs.  A simply outstandingly gory scene that looks great.  The next shot is the “meat” on the grill looking scrumptious.  The barbecue is in full swing with several of Anne & Arthur’s friends completely enjoying the “meat”.

In comes the neighbors who have been invited last minute by Anne.  Tim (Robert Borras) and Deborah (Rue Garcia) Original are new to the neighborhood and are expecting their first child.  Tim launches into way more information then you’d expect, especially for a guy who gets nervous meeting new people.

A while later, Deborah and Tim are standing around the grill talking about how great the “meat” is.  Anne takes Deborah to her garden (which she previously told her is “breathtaking”) and proceeds to slit her throat.  Tim (who’s now manning the grill) says, “Once I get going, I’m really good on the grill,” to which Arthur responds, “We’ll be the judge of that.”  The rest of the party goers hold him down while Arthur goes off screen to get the meat tenderizer.  The film ends with Arthur welcoming Tim to the neighborhood an hitting him in the head.

Arthur & Anne - Secret Family RecipeTHOUGHTS: This is a far superior effort to the first Get Coned production Self Storage in almost every way.  The visuals are much better, sound quality (something I had real issues with last time around) are off the charts better and the story here, while super creepy, is fun.  And the gore!  WOW!  It’s not often that I see this amount of well done blood and gore in a short.  Starting with the bludgeoning of the daughter which gives us some blood splatter, to the meat tenderizer to the back of the head, followed up with the de-ribbing of Tom to the outstanding throat slash it’s just really well done.

I LOVED the reference to Self Storage in the intro.  It doesn’t play into the story at all, but I’m a big fan of those types of self references.  I’m not sure if the film makers are trying to build a universe or just giving themselves a nod, but as a reviewer who’s watched both films I really enjoyed the nod.

I will say that the term “meat” is used WAY too often here, but I think that’s by design.  By the time the film finishes I get the feeling that I’ve been beaten over the head with Arthur’s meat tenderizer with the term.

  • Mmmm… This is the best meat I’ve ever tasted.
  • Yeah, this is incredible.  I don’t know what kind of meat this is, but the taste is pure heaven.

What’s really sort of neat here is just how unhinged Anne and Arthur are.  They literally see their cannibalism as a way of life and don’t see anything wrong with what they’re doing.  This is summed up perfectly in a line that Anne delivers when Tom is tied up in the garage: “Hi Tom, so good to see you… Thanks for stopping by.” Sick… twisted… and borderline brilliant.

Chris Durand plays Arthur really well and he portrays a husband just trying to appease his bitchy wife to perfection.  He totally reminds me of character actor Mike Starr and that’s a very good thing.  I’ve seen Lisa Arcaro before in Conversations With The Devil and I have to say I like her here more.  There’s a couple of forced lines here, but I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to play a character with literally NO moral compass.  She pulls it off quite nicely.

And while there are things here that are great, there’s some stuff that could be made better too… much better.  Some of the choices made here by the actors are just plain silly.  Tom see his daughter beaten to death in a freezer.  When he sees her (presumably lifeless) body in the freezer, he doesn’t go into hysterics the way any father would.  He proceeds to slowly close the freezer door and turn to his captor. That I don’t get.

Also, as I said previously, some of the line delivery is forced at best.  When we’re introduced to The Originals, we’re told how nervous Tim is around people.  He then proceeds to tell us where they’re from, how long they’ve been married, that they’re expecting, that his wife drives to and from work every day and how much they like the neighborhood.  It just doesn’t “fit” with that character description we’ve been given.

Secret Family Recipe has a running time of just over 15 minutes.  It tells a fun little story of a neighborhood of cannibals and is a huge leap forward for Get Coned Productions.  Gore hounds will be very happy with this flick and while this is obviously still a low budget effort I was never taken out of the story because of budgetary choices.  You can find Get Coned on their Facebook fan page where you can learn not only about Secret Family Recipe but also their previous film Self Storage and their upcoming project Language Of The Sick. Tell them ScareTissue sent you!

Check out the full film below and let us know what you think!

Chewie

Chewie

I've been a fan of horror and slasher movies for as long as I can remember. I consider the original Halloween to be the best horror movie of all time and my guilty pleasure horror flick would be The Exorcist III. You can find me on Twitter at @406Northlane where I'm sure I'll offend you at least once a day.

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