I’d just like to start off by saying thank you to first time Writer, Clarissa Jacobson for allowing me access to an online screener of her 19 minute Horror/Comedy short “Lunch Ladies”, Directed by J.M Logan. Lunch Ladies centers around two passionate Johnny Depp fans who are burnt out on their lunch gig at the local high school. When hyperactive, Seretta and cool, calm and collected, LouAnne (played by Donna Pieroni and Mary Manofsky respectively) win a contest to cook for Depp himself, they must find a way to deal with the demands of the school principal (Chris Fickley) and Alexis, the head cheerleader, (Daisy Kershaw) all the while trying to come up with the money for the plane ticket to Johnny. I try to avoid reading detailed reviews where I can, but I had heard some good things about Lunch Ladies and was happy to bemet with a warm reception by Clarissa. Lunch is served!
Right from the opening car ride shared by Seretta and LouAnne, I had similar feelings toward their pairing and that of the Morgan brothers duo in the underrated Horror/Comedy gem, “100 Bloody Acres” (filmed in my home state) *see review* https://adamthemoviegod.com/100-bloody-acres-review/. The dynamic between the characters comparable, as well as the representation of the contrasting personalities. The audio track is clear and Chris Ekstein’s cinematography looks great. Everything is nicely framed and pretty well-edited. The shot choices are fairly simplistic but everything works, particularly the external placement of the camera for the shots during the opening car ride. The fx team on Lunch Ladies did a wonderful job of the continuity and the practical effects and prosthetics. The most graphic scene sees a lot of blood spray as the duo run body parts through the grinder (once again, much in the same fashion as the Morgan brothers do). The one on-screen kill looks fairly tame but those aforementioned after effects are impressive. There can be no doubting that Antoni March’s grand score (and just his second time composing at that) is not only the best thing about Lunch Ladies but it’s perhaps the best thing about any film this year. Taking cues from the iconic, John Williams (Home Alone and Indiana Jones) and Tim Burton’s masterful composer, Danny Elfman (Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands), March fuses a multitude of quirky tones to convey a really off-beat brand of “homedy” (see what I did there). I hear plenty of my childhood in David Newman esq sounds (The Sandlot and The Flintstones), as well as the modern flare of something like “La La Land” *see review* https://adamthemoviegod.com/la-la-land-review-2/. I absolutely love this score encase you couldn’t tell!
Both Pieroni and Manofsky handle their roles quite well but I’d be lying if I said that I liked both of the characters. Lunch Ladies being what it is, maybe you’re not necessarily supposed to like either of these women all that much. LouAnne is a little more relatable because she’s trying her best to figure out how the plan will come together, she’s quick on her feet and level-headed (sort of). Seretta is unbelievably and dramatically over the top, I’m not sure someone like LouAnne would ever be friends with her in the real world, but opposites attract I suppose. Seretta’s only got one gear, so in turn Donna’s correlating performance does wear a little thin mid way through proceedings. My only other complaints were that the film was fairly light on both the horror and comedy aspects. I would have liked to have seen a couple more kills and a better, wittier back and forth between the two women (though I did like them referring to Johnny as “The Depper”).
Lunch Ladies is a very “American” Horror/Comedy short that serves its purpose productively and ended up reminding me a lot of our home-grown talent, “100 Bloody Acres” (just in the short format). The audio, camera work and special effects are all really well conceived. Donna and Mary do a solid job of their respective roles, and the Johnny Depp aspect within the comedy is quite amusing. Antoni’s score is absolutely outstanding and reason enough alone for me to revisit the film again in the not to distant future. Despite being surprisingly light on kills and laugh out loud moments, it entertains for the full run time. The only downside is that Seretta becomes a little grinding as the film rolls on. Even with its issues, Lunch Ladies is thoroughly enjoyable and deserves much of the praise its receiving across the film festival circuit. Keep an eye out for this one soon!
My rating for “Lunch Ladies” is 7.5/10