The Feast, 2021.
Directed by Lee Haven Jones.
Starring Nia Roberts, Annes Elwy, Julian Lewis Jones, Sion Alun Davies, Steffan Cennydd, Rhodri Meilir and Lisa Palfrey.
In a luxury house in the Welsh countryside, a quiet waitress works for the family of an MP hoping to secure a big property deal.
There’s something very creepy about immaculate, modern houses. When they’re all enormous panes of glass and gleaming surfaces, it rings alarm bells, whether that’s in the Oscar-winning Parasite or the Kevin Bacon horror tale You Should Have Left last year. The latter movie was set in the Welsh countryside, much like Lee Haven Jones’s debut feature The Feast. Unlike the Hollywood chiller, though, this is a rare example of a film which was shot in the Welsh language.
The language might be unusual – there are less than a million native speakers after all – but that’s nothing compared to the family unit on show here. Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones) is a local MP and his wife Glenda (Nia Roberts) is exactly the sort of super-privileged woman you’d expect to live in such an obnoxiously posh dwelling. Their kids, though, are odd creatures. Gweirydd (Sion Alun Davies) is wearing a singlet and seems to be training for a triathlon when he should be preparing for a fancy meal, while Guto (Steffan Cennydd) has dropped an axe on his foot and is injecting questionable substances into the area around the rapidly festering wound.
The X-factor amid all of this familial chaos is waitress Cadi (Annes Elwy), who has been drafted in on the recommendation of their previous staff member. Naturally, there’s more to Cadi than her taciturn exterior and she spends much of the movie wandering off to do unusual things, from cackling wildly in a pair of earrings to licking something which definitely shouldn’t be licked. Elwy gives everything to the performance, and it’s largely her who keeps the movie rattling along during its slightly pedestrian first half.
But this is a slow-burn that is absolutely going places, with Jones ladling on the mysteries as his story progresses, eventually emerging as a tale about the destruction of nature, with property deals and lucrative mining expeditions emerging as dinner table confrontation. Specifically, what this movie can’t stand is the pillaging of the natural world by suit-wearing capitalists. It’s no coincidence that the most obviously loathsome moneyed caricature is literally depicted scoffing food like a pig at one stage. Jones lays his cards on the table in enjoyable fashion, en route to an admirably bonkers finale.
And The Feast is absolutely at its best when it amps up the horror. Jones has a real eye for a grotesque image and, whether it’s with Hammer Horror woodland mist or maggot-infested prosthetic limbs, he constantly finds new ways to depict this dinner party’s descent into darkness. Anybody willing to endure the methodical pace and studied weirdness of the first half will be treated to a cathartic final act which plays every card in the horror deck and has a whale of a time doing it.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Tom Beasley is a freelance film journalist and wrestling fan. Follow him on Twitter via @TomJBeasley for movie opinions, wrestling stuff and puns.