by John Gulager (Dir.)
Review by Rogan Marshall
Weinstein Company Theatrical ISBN/ITEM#: B00005JPFL
Date: Sept 22, 2006 / Show Official Info /
Feast is already fast and funny and flippant during the five perfunctory minutes it takes to establish a grungy redneck bar way out in the desert and the dozen or so folks inside: these nameless characters are introduced via onscreen titles as horror movie stock "types", described only in terms of mean-spirited jokes, and life expectancies (for example, the kid in the wheelchair is "Hot Wheels. Life Expectancy: They Wouldn't Kill a Cripple, Would They?"). Before you can wipe all the grins and giggles off your faces, or decide whether you've been offended already, a guy the movie introduces as "Hero" kicks in the door, throws a big old monster's head on the floor, and says, "these things are on their way – lock the doors and bar the windows..."
The rest of the movie is built on the standard horror/scifi siege-in-a-house design: hideous deadly creatures of unknown origin surround the bar, and throughout one long night the folks trapped inside fight to preserve their lives and/or escape as their numbers are whittled down one by one. However, to describe Feast strictly in terms of story points, does it no justice: like the recent cult-hit-to-be Slither, or the Evil Dead pictures that obviously stand among its primary inspirations, Feast is extremely witty and extraordinarily literate within the horror genre, and every cliché it uses, it spins, explodes, makes fun of, successfully. Also like Slither, Feast boasts very funny dialogue and very solid acting, that, taken together, nail the redneck vibe to a preternatural nicety. (I'm not talking about any specific performances because the cast, taken as an ensemble, are uniformly excellent – a rare quality, for a movie like this.)
Feast barely pauses to consider where its monster antagonists come from, and doesn't give them, or their human opponents, much room for development or depth. (It also commits what is normally a cardinal sin: blatantly ignoring important insistent questions of plot logic, like, why don't they try to leave in a hurry before the monsters arrive, or, why don't they ever prioritize sending out or calling for help over combating the monsters?) Despite this disregard for developing meaningful characters and sensible story, which often reduces genre movies to complete continuous cartoonishness (and usually ruins them in the process), Feast manages something akin to real suspense, largely by maintaining a roller coaster pace from start to finish.
Extremely careful work from editor Kirk Morri and shooter Thomas Callaway, as well as a touch for blocking on the part of first-time director John Gulager that shames the work in any recent American action movie, miraculously prevent this direct continuous assault of violence and gore from getting stale. Every five or ten minutes the filmmakers throw in severe over-the-top grossouts that recall and rival Peter Jackson's Dead Alive for sheer excess. (Like Dead Alive, Feast is so gross, and so frantic, it gets exhausting, on first viewing; the last half hour washed over me without visible effect, like the last few punishing blows before a knockout punch.) The effects, created by Gary J. Tunnicliffe, are extreme and awful, in a good way; the monsters look and behave as if H.R. Giger designed Gwar – they frequently take breaks from their main program of anti-human mayhem, to have sex with each other, or inanimate objects, or spurt vast quantities of various disgusting fluids.
John Gulager's first film shows astonishing promise all around (though I suspect he'll eventually make his mark as an action, not a horror director). I suppose I ought to pause before I'm through to remind my gentler readers that Feast is hideous and disgusting, a movie which will appall more than a few viewers to the point of actual nausea. However, the audience that made classics of Dead Alive, Reanimator and other humorous hyperactive gorefests, along with the alienated adolescents rapidly rendering the gleefully sadistic The Devil's Rejects into a notable cult hit, will be thoroughly entertained and satisfied.