The Movie Waffler SXSW 2021 Review - THE FEAST | The Movie Waffler

Sponsor

SXSW 2021 Review - THE FEAST

the feast review
A mysterious young woman is enlisted to help a politician throw a dinner party.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Lee Haven Jones

Starring: Annes Elwy, Nia Roberts, Steffan Cennydd, Sion Alun Davies,  Julian Lewis Jones


The recent folk-horror revival continues in director Lee Haven Jones' Welsh language thriller The Feast. As is the remit of the sub-genre, it deals with tensions between the past and present, tradition and progress. It also might be described as an eco-horror, given its environmental themes. But in practice, the sub-genre it most resembles is the rape-revenge thriller, but here it's the rape of Mother Earth that's being avenged.

the feast review

Politician Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones) and his Lady Macbeth wife Glenda (Nia Roberts) have returned from London to spend time at the latter's inherited home. Once a working farm, Glenda's childhood home now houses their very modernist home, while farming has given way to fracking. The couple's return has been necessitated by the fear of scandals involving their two grown-up sons – drug addict Guto (Steffan Cennydd) and cycling obsessed Gweirydd (Sion Alun Davies), whose indiscretions are later revealed – whom they've essentially grounded to keep them away from the media.


Gwyn and Glenda throw a party in the hopes of convincing their neighbour Mair (Lisa Palfrey) to allow fracking on her land, a process that will be facilitated by the slimy consultant Euros (Rhodri Meilir). To assist with the preparations, Glenda enlists Cadi (Annes Elwy), a shy barmaid from the local pub. Practically mute, Cadi slinks around the home like a stray animal that has come into contact with humans for the first time. She barely speaks, but she does break into a song that surprises Glenda, as it was a ditty often sung to her by her mother.

the feast review

As the evening progresses, it becomes clear that Cadi has it in for Gwyn and his family. For half of its running time, the movie does a great job of teasing out details of Cadi's true nature and ultimate intentions. We're allowed enough time to get a sense of who Gwyn and his brood are, while Cadi remains deliciously ambiguous. But once it lays its cards on the table, The Feast doesn't know where to go from that point. In this way it reminded me of Jordan Peele's films – Get Out and Us – which similarly tease us to a point where they crudely spell out their themes and then struggle to reach a satisfying conclusion.


The first half of The Feast feels like the work of a fascinating new talent, and its subtitles, modernist setting and middle class milieu give it the air of a polished Scandinavian thriller. But after showing us so much, Jones and writer Roger Williams resort to lazily telling us what's really happening through leaden dialogue. With a couple of lines, the movie abruptly switches from one genre to another, and it feels like a cheap insult to an audience that has been fully invested to this point.

the feast review

Along with Elwy, who is mesmeric as the ethereal Cadi, Jones does enough to suggest he's a filmmaker to keep an eye on in the coming years. If he can make an entire movie that plays as well as the first half of The Feast, we'll have a real talent on our hands, but his first film doesn't satisfy enough to act as more than a calling card.

The Feast
 played online at the SXSW Film Festival 2021.

2021 movie reviews