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In New Webseries 'Last Meal,' Portland Restaurateurs Take Over for the Grim Reaper

The new comedy-horror sees the folks behind Barlow, The Picnic House and High Noon dish it out to pet photographers and indie rockers.

Horror and laughs sometimes make for an uneasy brew, but they go together like corpses and tombs in Last Meal, a jolly, oddly sincere and altogether delightful six-episode web series. Its many, sometimes morbid moving parts—celebrity interviews, fine dining and a scene where graphic novelist Nicole J. Georges (Calling Dr. Laura), gets a chopstick through the eye—may sound mismatched, but improbably, it all coheres and leaves you chuckling and lusting for, of all things, vegan sushi.

That sushi is among the delicacies dished up at the posh residence of Aaron and Jessica, played by Portland restaurateurs Aaron and Jessica Grimmer, behind The Picnic House, High Noon and Barlow. In Last Meal, Aaron plays the son of the Grim Reaper, who has taken command of what can only be described as the family business. But why, the series seems to ask, must the slaughtering of innocent souls be cloaked in cobwebs and ill intent? Surely it makes more sense to condemn people to the afterlife over civilized conversation and, when appropriate, pineapple upside-down cake.

This proud mandate fuels the series' episodes, each of which involves Aaron and Jessica dining with a celebrity marked for death. The roster includes such disparate personalities as Thermals lead singer Hutch Harris and animal photographer Carli Davidson, but every episode adheres to a rigid pattern: A guest enters, the Grimmers grill them about their life and work, and dinner is served before an extravagant slaying—like Davidson being obliterated by a fireball after biting into a hunk of Jell-O.

This gore-and-good vibes shtick, which owes a debt to Quentin Tarantino, could have easily grown tiresome. Yet Last Meal gets into a gloriously tongue-in-cheek groove thanks to the hilarious spectacle of the two Grimmers arranging executions as cheerfully and efficiently as if they were shopping for tuxedos and evening gowns. It also helps that the directors of the series, Courtney Eck and Jordan Firstman—who shot Last Meal at Blackberry Castle—include some genuinely poignant moments, like musician Logan Lynn recalling his upbringing in a Christian cult.

Of course in true Last Meal fashion, Lynn's chat with the Grimmers gets interrupted by a zombie, which perfectly exemplifies the series' recipe for entertainment: Take a few cups of sheer ridiculousness, several dashes of sentimentality and one bucket of blood. Then mix well and enjoy. 

Critic's Rating: 3/4 stars.

SEE IT: Stream Last Meal on Vimeo at vimeo.com/lastmealseries.