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‘The Feast’ (review)

British horror has always had a distinct style of its own, thanks to the rich history of both the talented writers and filmmakers who have contributed to terrifying audiences through the ages, as well as the wealth of folklore that thoroughly saturates British culture and is so deeply rooted in the very soil of these isles.

As such, British horror filmmakers have a distinct voice that is influenced by certain thematic and narrative trademarks, which are a testament to how even contemporary British storytellers have something rather unique to contribute to the world of horror.

With The Feast – which features dialogue almost entirely in Welsh – director Lee Haven Jones makes an impressive feature length debut, which not only attests to his talents as a filmmaker in general, but also effortlessly finds a place among other notable independent British horror films of recent years, once more enriching the vivid tapestry of the indie horror realm.

Boasting gorgeous visuals of the Welsh countryside juxtaposed with the strict, sharp shapes of the modern architecture of the main house where the story of this doomed dinner party takes place, the cinematography paints a beautiful picture, which helps to further drive home the feeling that something deeply unsettling must be lurking beneath the surface.

Taking ample time to build the atmosphere, there are seeds of unease planted from the very opening of the film. While these clues become harder and harder to miss as the film goes on, once one has finished the film and learned exactly what the outcome is and why, a second viewing may be tempting, as revisiting film to experience these clues in the knowledge of what will eventually happen, would certainly make for a very interesting, if different, watch.

Much like the subtly mounting unease, the pacing of the film also ensures that The Feast slowly crawls along and lets the actions of the characters speak for themselves rather than offer a dreaded exposition dump to explain what is going on. This is emphasized by the incredibly grounded performances, meaning the acting style is so ambiguous that if one has gone in with little to no knowledge of the plot, even the element of figuring out which subgenre of horror The Feast even is may be a mystery in itself.

Where some may struggle with The Feast, however, is specifically with the pacing and the – to some – seeming lack of narrative direction, as the film is a slow burn with emphasis on the slow bit. While there are those who are happy to patiently sit with the film and let it take its time to unfold, others will undoubtedly find the film obscenely slow and dull.

That being said, the patient viewer is rewarded in the final act of the film. Here, one is presented with body horror that is sparse yet potent, and gloriously gory to behold once the metaphorical penny drops and it is revealed exactly what is going on in the perhaps not so idyllic Welsh countryside.

Verdict: 7 out of 10

*  *  *  *  *
Produced and Written by Roger Williams
Directed by Lee Haven Jones
Starring Annes Elwy, Nia Roberts, Julian Lewis Jones, Steffan Cennydd,
Alun Davies, Caroline Berry, Rhodri Meilir, Lisa Palfrey

The Feast is currently streaming on Hulu

 

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