Despite Best Intentions The Feast (2021) Will Leave You Hungry
Title: The Feast
First Non-Festival Release: November 6, 2021 (Theatrical Release)
Director: Lee Haven Jones
Writer: Roger Williams
Runtime: 93 Minutes
Starring: Annes Elwy, Nia Roberts, Julian Lewis Jones
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Cadi (Annes Elwy) arrives late to her job as a server for Glenda (Nia Roberts), the wife of Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones), a politician who represents the surrounding district. She is tasked with preparing a meal for the family, including brothers Guto (Steffan Cennydd) and Gweirydd (Sion Alun Davies), and houseguests Euros (Rhodri Meilir) and Mair (Lisa Palfrey). The family is perturbed by but ambivalently polite to Cadi, a shy girl who is slower with her work and apt to wondering around their home. As the night goes on, this mysterious woman will be the least concerning part of the evening’s festivities.
Lost in its own metaphors, The Feast serves up somewhat palatable commentary on class division.
The film works as an extended metaphor for class divide, specifically taking aim at anti-environmentalism. Cady comes from a working-class background and is tasked with serving the family a three-course meal. As she prepares delicacy after delicacy, the meat of the conflict comes into play. The family consumes what is served and keeps coming back for more, this despite vomit, dirt, and other nasty fates the morsels succumb to before eaten. More to eat, right? This idea of careless and continuous consumption is driven into the ground, much like the drills mining around the family property.
Unraveling before Cadi’s eyes, the dinner reveals the fractures and divides between the consumers. This dinner is more than a meal, it is an opportunity to increase wealth and to take more. The vehicle in question is Mair’s land, which is ripe for fracking, which Euros is more than happy to cut a deal so he can utilize the untapped resources and so the family can see more of a return on their investment. Once the climax reveals exactly what is at play, it is clear that the exploitation of the land has gone far enough as they continue to take until nothing is left.
Much of the events of the film lay in the unexplained. Why is Cady so distant and aloof? Why do very peculiar things keep happening with the food? How are seemingly miniscule injuries or irritants magnified to devastating blows? All of this isn’t directly answered but heavily implied. It’s nice to see a film have such a confidence in its audience to get what is going on without hand holding. While The Feast is competent film, the point gets driven deep into the ground before overstaying its welcome.
Lacking depth, the characters act more to sell the overall idea of The Feast. Politicians cut deals, wives support their husbands, business owners make money, and children make problems. That is the extent of the shallow elite class here. This would hold more weight if Cady was presented as more than a mysterious antagonist/anti-hero. Her character isn’t developed per se more than revealed, which, even then, feels unsatisfying and trite. There is something unsettling, however, about Annes Elwy’s performance of Cady. Doe-eyed innocence and a cavalier regard for convention feels otherworldly when compared to the boisterous and dynamic interactions of those at the table.
While it doesn’t deliver much in terms of visceral scares or narrative payoffs, The Feast is a visual feast for the eyes. The luxury farmhouse looks so out of place on the Welsh countryside, which emphasizes the message of The Feast. A muted color pallet and lingering camera shots make the film feel unsettling in its pristine and artificial austerity. Overwhelming sound design and masterful editing consisting of quick cuts of disturbing imagery substitute for real scares or atmosphere.
A slow-burn family horror drama, The Feast indulges in the breakdown of its out-of-touch elite family and friends before ending on an ambiguous note. Sharp editing and cold cinematography keep the film tight and orderly even as the chaos within the upconverted farmhouse unravels throughout the evening. The Feast revels in the quiet unexplainable horror that chews up each attendee one-by-one until the meal is finished. Unfortunately, neither its buildup nor resolution can maintain the atmospheric conditions necessary to pull off such a feat. It may not be to all tastes, but The Feast possesses a certain flavor that may appeal to some.
Overall Score? 5/10