The Feast, 2021.
Directed by Lee Haven Jones.
Starring Annes Elwy, Nia Roberts, Julian Lewis Jones, Steffan Cennydd, Sion Alun Davies, Rhodri Meilir, Lisa Palfrey, and Caroline Berry.
Filmed in Welsh, the picture follows a young woman serving privileged guests at a dinner party in a remote house in rural Wales. The assembled guests do not realize they are about to eat their last supper.
In The Feast, a strangely quiet young woman named Cadi (an often unreadable, intentional blank slate of alarming proportions played by Annes Elwy) has been hired as a replacement hostess for a wealthy family’s important business dinner. When politely instructed by the household matriarch Glenda (Nia Roberts) to change into one of her blouses following an incident that dirties upper clothing, Cadi is all alone where she not only continues to be as eerie as the meticulously foreboding cinematography from Bjørn Ståle Bratberg, she lets out a burst of psychotic laughter while staring at her reflection. If it wasn’t obvious simply from the setup of director Lee Haven Jones (previously helming episodes of Doctor Who, he makes his narrative film debut here using a script from Roger Williams) that Cadi has sinister intentions, there’s assuredly no doubt left.
One also can’t really blame her for having a grudge against this elitist family. Somehow, they one-up her in the creep factor, with a son named Gweirydd (Sion Alun Davies) who can’t stop suggestively touching himself while preparing for a triathlon, his junkie sibling Guto (Steffan Cennydd) exhibiting generally offputting rebellious behavior, and their father Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones) who puts on a show pretending he shot the rabbits that are about to be prepared for the titular feast when in reality he found them dead. Cadi is smart and dangerous enough to use their flaws to her advantage, and in the case of Gwyn is able to project a sonic ringing into his head.
Credit to the filmmakers for assembling a bizarre assortment of characters that are nonetheless intriguing to watch that are captured with striking photography as they go about their eccentricities, but The Feast is too slow of a slow burn. Such a thing also wouldn’t necessarily matter that much if the payoff was worth it, but once the dinner guests arrive (a greedy businessman who excels at teaching others how to make money at the expense of morality, and a longtime family friend sitting on some Welsh land that could be financially lucrative as long as they can reach a deal to start drilling on the land), it’s painfully clear that the story’s direction has something to do with class warfare and revenge on the rich.
There is some appreciation to be found in the script’s pacing for trotting out critical details for piecing together the specifics of the plot, but after roughly an hour of watching these characters do nothing but exist as weird beings without much in the way of actual character, it takes a tedious toll on the overall experience. The Feast attempts to make up for this with a pleasantly nasty climax involving everything from cannibalism (utilized as a brilliant metaphor here), body horror, and supernatural terror (there’s also some Welsh folklore thrown in the mix that doesn’t add much of anything to the story), to no avail. It’s a surface-level takedown of the rich that’s bloated with atmosphere, leaving behind minimal narrative intrigue and some admittedly creepy performances.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com