November 19, 2021 The Feast (Movie Review)
The tension is ripe long before the flawless first course is set atop a mismatched table in The Feast, a sumptuous new Folk Horror offering that arrives in select theaters, as well as to VOD and On Demand, beginning Friday, November 19, 2021 thanks to IFC Midnight.
A feature debut for Director Lee Haven Jones (Doctor Who series, The Long Call series), The Feast was written by Roger Williams (Tir series, Bang series). It stars Annes Elwy (Little Women mini-series, Hidden series) as a young woman hired to help prepare and serve at a posh get-together in the Welsh countryside, held at the ostentatious abode of Glenda (Nia Roberts: Doctor Who series, Hidden series) and Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones: Invictus 2009, Zack Snyder’s Justice League 2021), a member of Parliament.
Taking on the role of voyeurs, moviegoers observe through the glass façade as their spacious table is set with ulterior motives and all of the players are assembled—including the couples’ problematic sons, Guto (Steffan Cennydd: Sweetheart 2021, The Pembrokeshire Murders mini-series) and Gweirydd (Sion Alun Davies: Britannia series, Hidden series), Gwyn’s business partner, Euros (Rhodri Meilir: Pride 2014, In My Skin series), and neighbor Mair (Lisa Palfrey: Guest House Paradiso 1999, Line of Duty series)—for what is destined to be their last supper.
Presented in Welsh with English subtitles, The Feast (Gwledd in its native language) defies comparison to any of its contemporaries, setting itself aside with its brutally elegant take on the Horror genre. Best described, it is a savage ballet of folklore blended with ecological themes that serve as a catalyst for the examination of class and privilege. For hardened genre die-hards, the film takes a gracefully unnerving approach to its presentation—much in thanks to the artful cinematography of Bjørn Ståle Bratberg (Hidden series, Bang series)—while still offering shock value and cringe-inducing moments meant to churn the stomach.
As it implores viewers to consider what will be left when everything has been greedily consumed—particularly natural resources—Williams’ tale nestles itself amid the subgenre of Eco Horror, of which 2013’s The Green Inferno is a prime (and extreme) example. And yet, thanks to its talented ensemble cast and gorgeously nuanced screenplay and cinematography, The Feast finds much of its weight in its use of juxtaposition. In this, the dissection of the lifeless grandiosity of its main family lays bare their pride and perversions, affairs that boldly contrast with the simple (“primitive”) needs and honest intentions of their forebears and neighbors.
Each moment of The Feast’s 93-minute runtime unfolds languidly, purposefully; taking the time to both accentuate and appreciate the art of the mundane. With a respect for the beauty of tradition, simplicity and the lush natural landscape, a false sense of security is built around the exterior walls of the house (that is not a home); one that allows the final reveals to shock and provoke as bloodshed ruins the sanitized interior that was built upon someone else’s dreams. It is, all told, a well-choreographed dance of the grotesque meant to make its viewers consider ownership and their role as consumers.
A rare gem that will unfold new discoveries with each additional viewing, Jones’ and Williams’ The Feast is a modern fable meant to titillate the senses as it tasks the conscience. For this, Cryptic Rock gives the film 5 out of 5 stars.