The Feast

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The Feast becomes deeply unpleasant in its final half-hour. That's fine – it's a horror movie, so unpleasantness is warranted. The problem is that the story is one of those deals where you don't really know what's going on until the very end, meaning there's a lot of slow build-up before you get to the hard-hitting stuff. And since the finale, gross though it may be, doesn't entirely make sense, any good qualities the film has are partially negated.

Filmed in Welsh with English subtitles, the story focuses on Cadi (Annes Elwy), a fill-in helper hired to serve the guests of a dinner party being held by politician Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones) and his wife Glenda (Nia Roberts). Cadi rarely speaks, although her body language gives away that she doesn't particularly like these people. One of their sons, Gweirydd (Siôn Alun Davies), is training for a triathlon and seems to get off sexually on wearing the cycling suit. The other one, Guto (Steffan Cennydd), has been forced to come home from London in order to kick a drug habit.

Bizarre things start happening with Cadi's arrival. Guto's leg becomes infected after injecting himself in the foot with drugs, Gwyn's ears ring painfully whenever he gets too close to her, and so on. Then the guests arrive for the party. Gwyn and Glenda are trying to convince their neighbor Mair (Lisa Palfrey) to allow businessman Euros (Rhodri Meilir) to help her sell off mining rights to the land she and her husband own. Does that have something to do with all the bizarre goings-on? You bet it does, although the connection isn't as interesting as it could have been.

Much of The Feast is devoted to building up all these little mishaps. Aside from the insinuation that there's an ecological element at hand, the story dives into the issue of money, specifically how Gwyn and Glenda appear to have been changed by the wealth Euros helped them achieve. The movie is not dissimilar to Bong Joon-ho's Parasite in suggesting that an over-emphasis on money is a form of evil. You like the characters in Parasite, though, even as they do bad things. Characters in The Feast are just grotesque. That film moved at a good clip, too, whereas this one spends an excess of time hinting at the lurking menace without providing sufficient clues as to the cause behind it.

Once we get to the end, director Lee Haven Jones gives us one of the most shocking comeuppances since Peter Greenaway's infamous 1989 The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (and Google the ending of that picture if you don't know what happens). While it's satisfying to see these horrible, irredeemable people pay for their sins, the wrap-up feels hollow. Several lingering questions remain as the credits roll, and the sudden burst of super-icky events clashes with the more mysterious tone of all that comes before it. Had the characters been less one-dimensional or the supernatural forces at play explained earlier, it might have made the story's flow more natural.

The Feast certainly does deliver a number of appropriately gruesome moments, the most cringe-inducing of which involves a shard from a broken wine bottle and a sex act. Credit should also go to the actors for making their characters as unpleasant and unlikeable as the plot needs them to be. The Feast ultimately feels like a cheat, though. It withholds the information we need for too long, so that by the time it finally arrives, we no longer care. Making us ask “Why is this happening?” then rushing through an answer in the last five minutes leads to a lot of impatience, followed by disappointment.

out of four

The Feast is unrated, but contains adult language, sexuality, and graphic violence. The running time is 1 hour and 33 minutes.