In the Welsh mountains, the family of wealthy local politician and businessman Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones) gather for a lavish dinner party, hoping to broker a mining deal between the neighbouring farm and a predatory land developer for a potentially lucrative plot of land that runs through both their farms, a wild area shrouded in secrecy and superstition.

As snobbish, social climbing wife Glenda (Nia Roberts) struggles to prepare the food, the evening’s hired help, local girl Cadi (Annes Elwy), arrives to wait on the family. Slightly dishevelled and disorientated, there’s something a little off kilter about Cadi who silently observes the family as she prepares and serves their food, judging them, weighing their souls and finding them wanting.

As the wine flows and the family’s secrets and resentments bubble to the surface, the night spirals out of control, the family’s own rapacious appetites consuming them…

George Carlin once said “At a formal dinner party, the person nearest death should always be seated closest to the bathroom.” Luckily, the dinner table in Lee Haven Jones’ atmospheric slow burner The Feast is circular – literally everyone’s jacket is on a shaky nail, all are prey to their own rapacious appetites, driven by hunger and need to destroy themselves; the land developer is driven by greed and gluttony, the MP and his wife by ambition and vanity, while their sons (one a rapist, one a junkie) are driven by more earthly desires.

When boiling a frog in a saucepan, you have to turn the heat up gradually and that’s precisely what the director and writer Roger Williams do, building an atmosphere of claustrophobic dread, of cloying foreboding, before the night explodes in bloody apotheosis as the near mute, seemingly passive Cadi infects both the frame and the family, her wan presence often lurking in the background, in plain sight but invisible as she observes the family, working her way under the skin, infecting their souls even as she infects their food, spitting in the dishes, adding hair, singing childhood songs to a nostalgic Glenda, leading each son astray, an angry earthy goddess wreaking vengeance on the interlopers, punishing them for the casual violence they have wreaked on the land that sustains them.

Owing as much to Buñuel’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie as it does to more traditional folk horrors, Jones and Williams are as interested in using The Feast to examine class struggle, wealth inequality and environmental destruction as they are in violence and scares but don’t allow the social commentary to get in the way of the gore and hysteria of the film’s Grand Guignol climax – one scene in particular even made me wince and look away, something I haven’t done since 2008’s Martyrs – and, as universally good as the performances are, Sion Alun Davies’ vain sex offender in particular is wonderfully loathsome, the film belongs to Elwy whose uncanny stillness is hypnotic, her silent, seeming passivity whether she’s building bougi hors d’oeuvres or secreting broke glass in her vagina is profoundly disquieting.

A tense, slow-burning exercise in class war, dread and natural, pre-Christian justice, The Feast satisfies even as it horrifies.

Movie Review: The Feast
5.0Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

About The Author