Evoking recent horror films like Raw in its unpleasantness and The Hallow’s environmental horror, Lee Haven Jones’s The Feast is a nasty piece of work. Deliberately paced and beautifully shot, Jones takes his time uncovering the dark secret surrounding the titular feast and its central character, the enigmatic and alluring Cadi (Annes Elwy), before revealing the dark heart of the film – and what a dark heart it is. The Feast is a nerve-wracking, poignant tale of capitalism’s destruction of nature and a harrowing horror film that is seductive and grotesque in the most satisfying of ways.
The events of The Feast take place over a single evening as a wealthy family prepares a delectable dinner and welcomes a few guests into their home. The reason for the meeting is left in secrecy but the meal is paramount to its success in Glenda’s (Nia Roberts) eyes. She hires Cadi to prepare the dinner, who comes highly recommended by their usual chef. Once she arrives it becomes very clear that something is not quite right as Cadi remains silent for the majority of the film, fixating on people and watching their movements, even when they notice. It’s both eerie and alluring, which the film explores in equal measure through the male figures of the house. From the husband, Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones), to his two sons, Guto (Steffan Cennydd) and Gweirydd (Sion Alun Davies), everyone is slightly corruptible on some level.
Once The Feast establishes Cadi as an enigma hiding something potentially destructive inside, it plays with the rest of the characters and the audience itself. Implied disturbing moments early on give way to a cavalcade of shocking violence and disturbing imagery, and it is highly recommended that you do not have food near you while watching the film. In fact, you might not really want to eat for a bit afterwards either depending on your tolerance level for that kind of content. The Feast is a bit reminiscent of 2020’s The Platform in that regard, and even slightly with its commentary on class structures.
Once the reason for the feast is revealed and the film begins its nightmarish descent, a lot of the commentary on capitalism is put on the backburner in exchange for the environment. Gwyn’s property is lavish but out-of-place in the countryside the family inhabits, living next door to farmers and nature. Glenda constantly talks of her love of the city, even going so far as to build a room in their house with nothing but concrete walls just to “relax”. Her two sons, one a doctor now training for a triathlon and the other a junkie who misses the nightlife of the city, each seem completely out of place in their home. They are characters placed somewhere they don’t belong and are a cause for concern for everyone in the area not looking to make a quick buck.
The Feast is rife with conversations to be had about its themes and gross-out moments, inviting a discussion on the consequences of taking from the land and exceeding your reach. Cadi even feels like a guardian of the forest, positioning herself in the way of the family’s selfish intentions. Every moment is mesmerizing for one reason or another, and Jones never fumbles the execution. Whether it’s in the film’s gorgeous cinematography from Bjørn Ståle Bratberg, or the incredible sound design, every beat lends itself to the suspense and underlying terror. The Feast is one of those movies that is pointed in its message, haunting in its execution, and unnerving to watch unfold. A hypnotic, unforgettable experience that digs deep down and uncovers the dark heart of humanity – and then devours it.