The likely winner of the award for the freakiest, strangest, most unsettling Welsh language film of this year’s festival, The Feast takes the concept of wining and dining at home to a new extreme when a wealthy family hold a dinner at their countryside home. Cadi (Annes Elwy) is a waitress hired to help prepare and serve the meal for the guests, but from the moment she arrives it is clear there is a foul taste in the air. Each family member has their own secrets, guilty pleasures and distasteful personality, but they are not alone – Cadi is also hiding her real self in the shadows, and before the night is up the truth will out.
Dinner parties are supposed to be pleasant occasions, where friends get together over a few bottles of wine, eat a delicious meal and simply enjoy each other’s company. For director Lee Haven Jones, this is clearly incredibly dull, and in his feature debut the viewer is subjected to the antithesis of a warm and inviting evening. Divided into chapters with each title associated with what is to follow, The Feast takes time to slowly peel back the layers of each character, with the only obvious shared characteristic being a collective creepiness. The primary family and additional characters are quite frankly all a bit weird in their own ways, whether manipulative, obsessive or egomaniacal, making up one seriously dysfunctional unit. Inject a clouded centrepiece in the form of the disturbing, personality-lacking Cadi, and chaos will undoubtedly ensue.
The cast all play their part in powerfully executing these behaviours, alongside drip-fed foreshadowing, filling the viewer with an ever-growing level of suspense and fear. One speculates about who, or rather what, is really doing the feasting for a large portion of the visceral runtime, with the plot only really starting to fully unravel at around the hour mark. It is only in the final act that one discovers Cadi’s true identity, so the classic description of “slow burn” is certainly pushed to the limit, but for those who can sit tight for long enough, the rewarding assault on the senses is worth every moment.
The family home is the sole setting for the 93-minute duration, and what a soulless, albeit impressively modern piece of architecture it is – the perfect place for a horror movie that leaves nowhere to run. It turns out it is the same setting used in David Koepp’s 2020 psychological horror You Should Have Left, starring Kevin Bacon, in which a haunted house begins to consume the minds of its inhabitants. Clearly, for a stress-free holiday, this house situated in the remoteness of Wales is best avoided.
It is incredibly refreshing to see a Welsh-language film hitting the mainstream big screen, and for audiences who haven’t seen a such a production before, The Feast certainly isn’t a bad place to start (although it might disappoint if what’s expected is a horror filled with jump scares). Sure, the pace is steady, and the experience is unlikely to be for everyone, but once the action kicks off, The Feast explodes like a seismic water balloon filled with blood.
The Feast does not have a UK release date yet.Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for The Feast here: