"They're hungry. You're dinner."
A motley group of strangers find themselves trapped in an isolated tavern and must band together to fight off a family of flesh-eating monsters.
With a plot that has been done to death time and time again, your typical low budget horror film cast with a few recognisable faces and the fact that Wes Craven was an executive producer (purely so the makers of the film could slap his name on the front cover), Feast didn’t exactly set itself up to bat with great poise. The opening few minutes reek of a director desperately trying to make his film stand out from the crowd with the mini-bios of each character and their odds of surviving the night appearing during freeze frames of each patron. It’s a bit gimmicky and self-referential but it was early days. Stereotypes are played up with the ditzy barmaid, the hick owner, grizzled barman and a variety of stock characters peppering the bar. You know that the film is going to be by-the-book but you're unsure by how much. However, the moment the ‘hero’ bursts through the doors of the tavern to warn everybody of the coming danger, the rules and predictability go straight out of the window and Feast turns into one of the best damned gore-fests I've seen in a long time. No character is safe. No subject is too taboo. Nothing will go the way it should go. Just sit back and enjoy the ride because it's going to be fast and frenetic, with plenty of bad taste thrown in for good measure. Feast strides into the foray with a ridiculous amount of swagger and bravado, assured in the knowledge that the rest of the film is as confident in its own appeal to the audience as these opening five minutes.
It's actually quite hard to review this and not give away too much because half of the fun in Feast is actually waiting to see what happens to which character. Believe me there are a lot of unexpected twists and turns. Every genre cliché is battered around. Just when you think the film is heading in one direction, the rug is pulled from underneath you. And then just as you start to get to your feet, the rug is pulled out again. It's a relentless ride of twists and it's a great credit to the writers that they manage to keep everything as entertaining at the end as they did at the beginning. The film does start to lose steam half-way through as there's only so many logical twists and turns that the narrative can take before it becomes tiring and because it throws everything but the kitchen sink into the opening half, there's not a lot else left to do but repeat.
By this point, it doesn't really matter because the blood and gore are flowing freely, and the film has already won enough goodwill to see itself out to the end. The deaths are all violent, gruesome and frequent. There is a pretty big group of people to thin out at the beginning and the film wastes little time in getting rid of most of them early on. At times, the film can be a little dark to see what is going on and director John Gulager does have the annoying tendency to throw in plenty of cuts and rapid edits during the attack scenes to make them a little disorientating. Thankfully, the finale provides ample opportunity to catch up on any missed gore as the make-up effects team go all-out to drench the screen in as much blood and guts as possible.
Feast does have a wicked sense of black humour to go along with the twists, some of it which will not be to everyone’s tastes and if you’re easily offended then you’re best off avoiding (though if you think this one is bad, wait until you check out the sequels). From the monsters humping everything and everyone in sight (I'll let you find out for yourselves) to the almost computer game-like names of the characters (Honey Pie, Boss Man, Hot Wheels, etc), there's nothing too goofy or silly to be included. Does it harm the film? Yes and no. If you're looking for serious then look elsewhere. But if you're in the mood for one of those ‘switch off your brain’ flicks then this is right down your alley. A lot of the laughs to be had come from inappropriate moments and ‘I shouldn’t really laugh at that but can’t help it’ twists and turns – if you haven’t got a grin on your face at least a handful of times here, then you’ll need to have a humour transplant.
Clu Gulager, of Return of the Living Dead fame, is one of the recognisable faces amongst the cast – after all, his son directed the film. Henry Rollins has a few of the best moments of the film as the motivational speaker who needs to change his trousers when they are ripped during an attack and is stuck wearing a pair of pink tights for the bulk of the film. The rest of the acting isn't particularly bad, nor is it memorable - the characters are all slightly more dimensional than they have right to be, but these characters aren’t exactly an actor’s friend. The major positive is that there's no real main character and a lot of the supporting characters get equal screen time. This is one occasion when not having a lead character to dominate the screen helps the ‘group sticks together’ mentality. It also means the film becomes less predictable as no one is really safe until the end credits roll.
The monsters themselves do get a lot of personality traits (especially the more amorous younger creature) but are rarely glimpsed in full, confined to the shadows or edited in such a way as to avoid revealing what they really are. I guess it wouldn't have hurt to let us know just what these things were but sometimes less is more. The suits look decent enough when you do catch the odd glimpse and they do look equally terrifying and ridiculous in the sequels, who were less afraid to showcase the monsters in the daylight and in full view of the camera.
Feast is a true feast of horror and comedy, which is insane from the start and doesn’t let go. It doesn't just break the rules, it tosses them away and does what it wants to do, when it wants to do it, and doesn’t care who it offends along the way. From Dusk Till Dawn on steroids would be a great way to summarise this.
Director(s): John Gulager
Writer(s): Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan
Actor(s): Navi Rawat, Krista Allen, Balthazar Getty, Judah Friedlander, Duane Whitaker, Chauntae Davies, Hannah Bernall
Duration: 95 mins