THE FEAST (2021)

Greetings again from the darkness. It’s safe to say all seven deadly sins are on display in the first feature film from director Lee Haven Jones and screenwriter Roger Williams. In fact, by the time the end credits roll, it seems likely a few more sins have been added to the list. The film definitely serves as savage commentary on the attitudes of the elite class, especially the nouveau rich, while also scratching the itch of those who prefer their horror filled with creepy atmosphere.

We first glimpse Cadi (Annes Elwy, LITTLE WOMEN, 2017) as she staggers up to the front entrance of a home in the country. Looking wet and disheveled, Cadi is late for her gig as the help for a dinner party. Rarely speaking and often staring blankly at family members through mysterious occurrences, Cadi works with Glenda (Nia Roberts), the lady of the house, to prepare the three-course meal. We know something is off with Cadi and her ominous presence, but this is no normal family she’s contracted with. Glenda’s husband Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones) is a Member of Parliament and the kind of guy who boasts about shooting the two rabbits on that evening’s menu … despite the fact that we know he didn’t. Their two sons are Guto (Steffan Cennydd), a guitar-playing drug addict who has recently moved back home after an overdose in London; and Gweiryydd (Sion Alun Davies), an odd young man training for a triathlon and enjoying his own spandex a bit too much.

The house itself is also a character. Stark, cold and modern, and displaying abstract art that represents the local land, it seems quite out of place on the farmland. So we have a house that doesn’t belong, a dysfunctional family that’s out of place, and Cadi who is the biggest outlier of all. Things get more bizarre once the guests begin to arrive. Euros (Rhodri Meilir) is a shady agent/businessman who we learn has helped Gwyn and Glenda reach a new level of financial success by leasing out their farm land to companies drilling for resources. It turns out the dinner party is a ruse to get their neighbor Mair (Lisa Palfrey) to join in the newfound riches. We quickly note that Mair’s dress, demeanor, and reaction to Glenda’s showing off this lifestyle, puts the two families at odds. Mair’s husband’s delay in joining the party is a more important detail than originally thought.

This is a rare Welsh-language folk horror tale, and though it’s not lacking in blood, its best elements are the excruciatingly slow-burn beginning as suspense builds in regards to Cadi’s motives/powers/intentions. This haunting pace with chilling scenes and odd characters keep us in an anxious and unaware state for the first 2/3 of the movie. This is no modern day Cleaver family, and the sons are no Wally and Beaver. The nuanced approach allows us to build disgust towards the family and how they’ve exploited the land and other people for their own success, while also trying to interpret Cadi.

Going against nature is becoming a more frequent topic in films these days, and the payback is often harsh and unkind. Cinematographer Bjorn Bratberg expertly captures the interior and exterior moments, while composer Samuel Sim provides eerie background accompaniment. Lee Haven Jones has not taken a traditional approach to horror, and the creativity and atmosphere will likely be appreciated by many.

In theaters and On Demand beginning November 19, 2021


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