Synopsis: A wealthy family gathers for a sumptuous dinner at their ostentatious home in the Welsh mountains. When a mysterious young woman arrives to be their waitress for the evening, her quiet yet disturbing presence begins to unravel their lives.
Stars: Annes Elwy, Nia Roberts, Julian Lewis Jones, Steffan Cennydd, Sion Alun Davies, Rhodri Meilir, Lisa Palfrey, Caroline Berry
Director: Lee Haven Jones
Running Length: 93 minutes
TMMM Score: (8/10)
Review: You’d think that by now people would learn. After countless movies over the years have shown land and animals rebelling against crooked land developers, evil miners, mad scientists, and villainous officiants that should know better, there are still those that tempt fate by messing with Mother Nature. Or whatever Mother Nature looks like from country to country, tradition to tradition, culture to culture. You can’t escape the wrath of a tree root that doesn’t want to be chopped or a plot of earth that doesn’t feel like being tilled and getting all rumpled up. Most of the time, the results are a good round of devastating special effects bonanzas but when you drift over into the European market you can rest assured that when retribution is doled out, the grand finale isn’t going to be a walk in the park.
That’s absolutely the case with The Feast, a Welsh film from director Lee Haven Jones that sets an ominous tone (literally) from the start and maintains a tense grip on your nerves throughout. There’s seldom a moment when you can let your guard down and not because there are jump scares waiting around one or more of the dark corners in the secluded modern home the film centers itself in. The real scares here are from the sense that the impending doom could somehow be prevented at any time but those in peril sally forth without bothering to check in with their surroundings and notice things are amiss. Once The Feast begins (and the actual feast referred to in the title starts) there is no going back for any of the guests, hosts, or viewer.
A young woman named Cadi (Annes Elwy, Apostle) arrives to assist well-to-do Glenda (Nia Roberts), in hosting a dinner party for an investor her husband Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones, Zack Snyder’s Justice League) works with. They’ve invited their neighbor from a nearby farm, with a plot of land not that dissimilar to theirs where they have already tore down the woman’s childhood home and erected the chic but soulless house where they are assembling the meal. Also attending will be Gwyn and Glenda’s two troubled sons, ice-blonde health nut Gweirydd (Sion Alun Davies) and sandy-haired screw-up Guto (Steffan Cennydd). Right away we can see that Cadi either isn’t who she says she is or has an alternative agenda with the family, but to what end. Getting to know the family during the day as the meal is prepared, we start to see hints at her true nature, only to have our expectations altered as the evening progresses.
Credit to screenwriter Roger Williams and director Jones for keeping things moving at a good clip without sacrificing any little character details along the way in The Feast. Cadi acts like a tiny fly on the wall and observes the inner workings of the family, so we see firsthand how odd Gweirydd is and that he might be hiding a secret. The small actions of other characters hint at this too, you have to pay close attention to pick these up and it only adds to the richness of the finale if you understand why things are unraveling as they do. The violence is grotesque at times but sort of beautifully done in its own way as well. Fans of folk horror will, pardon the pun, eat this one up.