Long is the battle between man and nature, whether large scale mining or smaller scale resource extraction, humanity destroys that which is green in the pursuit of that which is shiny. An oversimplification, yes, but not an inaccurate one. What The Feast posits is what if nature fought back?
Set in an austere and modern home built on a large rural welsh estate, Glenda (Nia Roberts) and Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones) have invited their neighbour Mair (Lisa Palfrey) to dine with them, their sons Guto (Steffan Cennydd), an addict in that middle place between desperation to get clean and desperation for more heroin and Gweirydd (Sion Alun Davies), a triathlete whose obsession with his own body is offputting, to say the least, and their friend and business colleague Euros (Rhodri Meilir). Due to the importance of the dinner, Glenda has hired Cadi, a local waitress, to assist with prep and service.
This isn’t a movie with a big twist. Something is off about Cadi from the start, from the way she stares, expressionless, at the family as they prep to the way she leaves a trail of dirt wherever she goes despite being perfectly clean. The trick is that the family is too self-involved to notice, even as Cadi sullies their food and wine pretty much right in front of them.
The tension builds slowly but steadily as you watch Cadi watching them and slowly but surely influencing their evenings with malevolent intent. Once things go off the rails in the rails in the third act, this accelerates quickly. As each family member gets their comeuppance, we learn a little more about Cadi’s origin and intent, but only enough detail to know that this is a story of the land striking back at those that would exploit it.
That the film is acted entirely in the Welsh language only serves to deepen these themes, that connection to the land is something best not broken. The home that Glenda and Gwyn live in is sleek and modern, and the oil and minerals they extract from the land are valuable, but they had to destroy her family’s farmland to acquire it all.
The comeuppance they each receive is inventive and harrowing as well, and while there are some budgetary constraints, director Lee Haven Jones has a firm grasp on how much to show and how much to leave to our imaginations.
While it may be a little too slow getting to its climax, The Feast is still definitely worth your time. Fans of horror –folk horror in particular– will find much to love here.
The Feast will be available on-demand this Friday, November 19th.
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