Almost by definition a horror movie made by committee, Feast really shouldn’t work at all, but whilst its ambitions remain resolutely lowbrow, it does at least make for a diverting night in, if enjoyed in tandem with a large pizza and a sixpack. The fact that it’s the only product of the misbegotten Project Greenlight TV series to even register as a blip on the public’s radar, let alone spawn two sequels (the forthcoming Feast 2: Sloppy Seconds and Feast 3: Happy Finish) probably serves as some kind of testament to this. And if nothing else, it’s one in the eye for the brothers Weinstein, given the film’s apparently troubled inception and the two previous duds that had resulted from theirs and their show’s apparent devotion to rewarding pandering middlebrow pap. So I’m inclined to salute Feast as a small triumph of bad taste, if not much more than that.
Because ultimately, the film is only a pleasant distraction at best. A slightly unwelcome throwback to the best left behind us days of 80s comedy horror, Feast closely follows the Evil Dead ‘spam in a cabin’ narrative template, i.e. trap a bunch of vaguely defined characters in a confined space and spend 80 minutes ripping ’em to pieces. But first-time director John Gulager is no Sam Raimi, and Balthazar Getty sure ain’t no Bruce Campbell. The humour in the Evil Dead series is at best, sly and bracingly left-field, here it’s just too often glib, smart-arsed and annoyingly meta.
A remote honky tonk bar is besieged by a family of ravenous monsters (who, refreshingly, are given no explanatory backstory), and accordingly, the mismatched characters within must band together in order to survive. Of course, in movies like Feast we don’t really want them to survive, constructed as these films are around a succession of money shots in which people die hideous splattery deaths. The writers here seem to realise this, and limit their character development to a series of too-cool-for-school introductory captions, which A: save them from having to do any of that annoying expository writing stuff, and B: grow tedious very rapidly. Kudos to them for attempting a few curveballs in terms of which characters die first, but the deaths are so heavily signposted by the aforementioned captions that the film soon becomes predictable in its desperate attempts to shoot for unpredictability.
But the cast is game for a laugh, and the whole enterprise is largely sustained by the overall atmosphere of enthusiasm. Too often the humour is pitched at the level of having punk tough guy Henry Rollins walk around in a pair of pink tracksuit bottoms, for example, but the occasional moments of wit and invention suggest that Gulager might be capable of better, once safely away from the Weinstein meat-grinder.
And certainly, as a shameless fanboy movie, it’s certainly leagues ahead of dross like Hatchet. The action scenes are staged in that irritating shaky-cam strobing-shutter style that everyone lifted from Spielberg after Saving Private Ryan, but otherwise the film looks surprisingly good. And Gulager must be given credit for the generally committed performances. The cast certainly seem like they’re taking this stuff seriously, even if the writers aren’t.
So whilst I can’t imagine that there’s enough here to sustain a second (let alone a third) sequel, as a stand-alone, set-your-brain-on-standby Friday night DVD rental, this will fill a hole. Not quite a feast perhaps, but it’ll do if you’ve just got the munchies.
The special features menu initially seems promising, but what you get is nothing more than a bunch of 10 minute EPK pieces on the making of, special effects, etc. The usual array of deleted scenes and outtakes are provided also. Given the unusual circumstances that brought the film into being, the lack of a director’s commentary or proper documentary is a particular oversight.