The Feast review: one of 2021’s best, sickest horror movies
Supper celebrations can be their own type of abuse, and in cinematic kind, they’re ripe areas to mine social pain. When directors trap individuals in a space together and strongly impose social niceties, they’re simply cueing up the squirming animosities and discontent. Black funnies like Sally Potter’s The Celebration, thrillers like Karyn Kusama’s The Invite, or inefficient household dramas like John Wells’ August: Osage County — they all determine that minute throughout a party when politeness paves the way to sincerity, and little talk ends up being genuine talk. All hell break out then. The Welsh scary film The Banquet is a peaceful little marvel of a motion picture that prospers on that type of pain, leading up to precisely that turmoil.
At the same time sophisticated and grisly, The Banquet is the current in this year’s mini-trend of ecologically focused scaries, following In the Earth and Gaia. Director Lee Sanctuary Jones and author Roger Williams construct an environment of universal stillness (thick forests, stretching moors), then contrast it with the pollutive existence of individuals. Cinematographer Bjørn Ståle Bratberg records in closeups the malevolence of manufactured devices: the pumping grind of an oil well drawing thick fluid up from underground, the metal sparkle of a double-barreled shotgun embeded in the lawn, the dull thud of an axe head as it falls to the ground. Individually, these products are in theory indications of civilized development. Together, they handle a more threatening tone, asking “How much of our creativity is inspired by dominating the world around us, and at what cost?”
The Banquet occurs completely over a single day in a remote estate in the Welsh mountains that’s available just by a dirt roadway. It’s set away from its next-door neighbors, and occupied by an upper-class household whose members appear hardly able to stand each other. Glenda (Nia Roberts), better half of regional political leader Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones), is a passive-aggressive waterfall of grievances and humblebrags: The regional supermarket doesn’t bring bok choy, so they had a carrier provide it fresh to their house. The club owner she initially employed to assist her prepare and serve throughout a supper celebration canceled at the last minute, which doesn’t match Glenda’s goals. “I want to make a good impression,” she states. So when a girl, Cadi (Annes Elwy) comes to completion of their drive, Glenda instantly presumes she’s the club owner’s replacement, and begins bossing her around.
The specific classism of that vibrant draws inflammation from Glenda’s child Guto (Steffan Cennydd), who wonders about the peaceful Cadi, and amusement from her other child, Gweirydd (Sion Alun Davies), whose starving look at Cadi releases severe American Psycho vibes. Cadi is as curious about them as they have to do with her, and Jones incrementally ratchets up the audience’s stress and anxiety as Cadi wanders around this odd home. In the narrow sauna space, the slivered-open doors expose an interior that appears like a jail. Gweirydd’s bed room has its floor-to-ceiling windows discovered, so he can peer out — or another person can peer in. The Banquet sets out on a course of voyeurism, and after that, through Williams’ slyly revelatory script and a number of well-edited, jarringly violent series, overturns expectations concerning who’s trespassing here, and who’s being trespassed on.
The Banquet needs perseverance, and a few of its stylistic flourishes don’t precisely work. The movie is divided into half a lots chapters or two, with title cards that expose upcoming lines. Their addition doesn’t include anything to the currently sporadic, impact-heavy discussion. The folklore component might utilize some more contextualization, and the flirtation with a haunted-house setup would have been appealing to check out. However there is likewise power in how dedicated The Banquet is to its driving concept, and in how totally it coats that conceit with gross, slimy, and squishy things when the time comes.
What would we look like if we were really from the earth, and what horrors are affiliated with returning to our origins? Jones offers an array of visuals mirroring the film’s suggestion that humanity is a kind of invasion: a smear of dirt on a piece of brightly colored modern art; drops of blood falling into translucent bathwater; a dribble of vomit falling into a nicely prepared meal for a dinner party. By probing at the ways people are on their best behavior while inherently personifying the worst effects of capitalism and greed, and knowing when to abandon modesty for brutality, Jones and Williams turn The Banquet into one of the year’s most smartly conceived, plainly effective scaries.
The Banquet debuts in minimal theatrical release and on digital rental platforms like DirecTV and Vudu on Nov. 19.
Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.