Film review: The Feast

An atmospheric horror that's draped in Welsh folklore

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Welsh-language film The Feast (17 Aug, Picturehouse at Fact, Liverpool and regionwide from 19 Aug) is the latest contemporary indie horror film to start off as a slow-burner in which everyone stands around staring into the middle distance not saying very much, until it ramps things up to levels of mind-twisting insanity with buckets of gore splashed wildly all over it all.

A wealthy but dysfunctional family gather together at their country retreat in the Welsh mountains, in a house that’s straight out of Grand Designs. Matriarch Glenda fusses over the preparation of a lavish dinner while her husband, a local MP, hopes to broker a deal between businessman Euros and neighbouring landowner Delyth to expand the mineral mining being undertaken in the area. Local girl Cadi turns up to waitress for the evening, but her activities  go much further than just handing round the canapés and as the evening unfolds, events take a dark and bloody turn.

Debut film director Lee Haven Jones and writer-producer Roger Williams have crafted an unsettling and effective addition to the eco-horror genre here in which nature takes revenge against its oppressors – this time with a folklore-inspired supernatural twist.

The film struggles a little in that there’s no one who you really root for. The group we focus upon is truly awful, self-absorbed and materialistic. You pretty much hate everyone from the get-go. Annes Elwy is effective as Cadi, embodying moments of strangeness and darkness to good effect, but even her kooky weirdness gets a bit tiresome.

But there’s a lot to draw the viewer in. Sound, for example, plays a big part in the film. It opens at a remote exploratory drilling site in the hills, and as the drill sinks deeper into the ground, is that screaming we can hear coming up from the Earth? Creaks, squeaks and gloopy slicing noises fill the effective soundtrack to put the viewer on edge throughout. And the levels of terror and gore at the end are so intense that it certainly leaves an impression. There are also some intriguing links to Welsh folklore explored in the film that aren’t immediately apparent, at least to someone who doesn’t know their Welsh folklore, and this may have you looking up what or who a Blodeuwedd is by the time the credits roll.

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