Saying that Feast is the best film to come out of the Project Greenlight TV show is dim praise indeed… so it’s a good thing that this isn’t the only praise I have for it. Feast is a genuinely fun splatter movie that almost never lets up and definitely never takes itself too seriously. In fact Feast is missing just one element – a decent script – that keeps it from being an actually great film.
The setting is a bar in the middle of nowhere. A motley crew drinks there, each introduced in a hilarious freeze frame moment that tells us their names (all generic, like Coach or Grandma or Wheels (a kid in a wheelchair), some quick facts about them and their life expectancy. The gimmick is cute, if overdone simply because there are a lot of characters here. Two more are coming, though – a husband and wife come to the bar bloodied and scared, being chased through the desert by a family of weird monsters. Soon the monster attack begins and the bar becomes a bloody death trap as patrons are knocked off one by one.
It’s standard stuff but director John Gulager gives it a fun tweak, bringing what could have been a rote survival horror movie into much more Evil Dead territory. Gulager also has a good eye, and sets up some very nice shots, but all too often he falls into boring horror movie visual tropes, like impossibly shaky cam, stupid speed ramping and frame cutting. It’s not fair to judge a movie based on its making, but anyone who watched Greenlight knows what a chore this was, and Gulager did a much better job than I would have imagined. Hopefully this will get him more work where he can be a little more himself.
Feast works on most levels – the gore is satisfying (especially a monster’s severed penis, which gets smashed) and the actors all seem to be in the spirit of things (biggest props to Henry Rollins who plays a douchebag self-help speaker with real conviction, and who has some of the most humiliating scenes), but they’re let down by the script. The movie is devoid of memorable lines, and most of the dialogue is fairly trite and boring. In Feast “You’re a dick!” passes for a witty rejoinder. In a perfect world someone with a Joss Whedon or James Gunn sensibility would have punched up the script a bit, giving the actors more to chew on.
What’s shocking is that Feast is only playing in theaters for a weekend before hitting DVD. This is a movie that begs for an audience experience, and even the group of critics I saw it with were hooting and hollering. Feast is better than any movie Screen Gems has ever released, and they all manage to make double digit millions – this could do the same. It’s sad to see this film get manhandled so badly after sitting on a shelf for years, but at least you finally have a chance to see it. Catching a midnight screening of Feast this weekend is guaranteed to be one of your better horror moviegoing experiences this year.