Movie Review (SXSW Online 2021): The Feast

March 18, 2021

Written by Joseph Perry

Joseph Perry is the Film Festival Editor for Horror Fuel; all film festival related queries and announcements should be sent to him at [email protected] He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.

Welsh shocker The Feast is an unsettling, eerie slice of horror cinema that jangles the nerves and does a beautiful job of slowly unraveling its secrets until its mind-boggling third act sticks the landing. This is instant classic fright fare, and the film will be hard to topple from its current spot as my favorite horror movie of this year.
Food server Cadi (Annes Elwy in a superb performance) is filling in for the woman who usually helps Glenda (Nia Roberts), the wife of politician Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones), prepare dinners for guests in the couple’s sumptuous, high-tech country home. Invited to dinner are businessman Euros (Rhodri Mielir) and neighbor Delyth (Caroline Berry), and reluctant to attend are the couple’s oldest son Gweirydd (Sion Alun Davies), who is preparing for a triathlon when not displaying perverse behavior, and Guto (Steffan Cennydd), a drug-addicted would-be musician.

The events of The Feast unfold over the course of one evening, from preparation time to the film’s jarring ending. A sense of dread and unease sets in from the beginning, as this type of dwelling is the kind that harbors many secrets. Some of these secrets come to light gradually, as Cadi, who barely speaks all evening, wanders through the house, doing what she is told as Glenda orders her around in a distant manner until a dangerous event leads to Glenda opening up a bit more. Both of the brothers show interest in Cadi, as well.
It would be a grave disservice to future viewers to give much more away here, but suffice it to say that The Feast blends several styles of horror, including psychological, environmental, and the supernatural, and it pays off handsomely on all counts. Gruesome set pieces and disturbing ideas left to the imagination to fill in all play a part in the film’s gripping proceedings.
Director Lee Haven Jones orchestrates his film masterfully, working from a screenplay by Roger Williams. (The dialogue is in Welsh, with English subtitles.) Viewers get to know these characters intimately, and quite often uncomfortably so. Bjørn Ståle Bratberg’s sumptuous cinematography and Samuel Sim’s terrific score both are both excellent complements to what unfolds.

The members of the ensemble cast all turn in splendid performances, with Elwy standing out as a seemingly simple young woman who, like most of the other characters, has dark secrets. Whether her often silent character is acting stoic or breaking away from her reserved manner — to sing a song or talk with one of the brothers, for example — Elwy nails every subtle difference.
No matter what stripe of horror fan you are, you need to see The Feast. It has resonated with me since my first viewing a few nights ago, and it will likely have a similar effect on you. This film gets my highest recommendations.

 
The Feast screens as part of SXSW Online 2021, which runs from March 16–20, 2021. 

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