Review: Dinner doesn’t go down easy in gory ‘The Feast’

A woman with blood on her face looks up to the sky.
Annes Elwy as Cadi in Lee Haven Jones’ “The Feast.”
(IFC Midnight)

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As horror movies go, “The Feast” is one for the gourmands, the kind of genre fans who like their thrills and kills to skew more avant-garde. Directed by Lee Haven Jones from a Roger Williams script, this Welsh-language thriller is a film that doesn’t waste a lot of time on plot or backstory. Instead, it efficiently establishes some pretty surfaces before shattering them with the shockingly ugly.

Annes Elwy stars as Cadi, a mysterious young woman hired by a chilly local socialite named Glenda (Nia Roberts) to serve at a dinner party. As she helps with the preparations, Cadi has odd encounters with Glenda’s family, including her husband, Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones), a corrupt politician, and their troubled grown sons, Guto (Steffan Cennydd) and Gweirydd (Sion Alun Davies).

Though this film is relatively short at 93 minutes, Jones and Williams are in no hurry to get to their most extreme violence … although they do arrive there in the movie’s final third, which mostly consists of one disquieting scene after another. “The Feast” is more concerned with the rhythm of these people’s day as they groom themselves and ready their modern country estate for company.


Still, throughout the first hour, there are moments that make it clear “The Feast” is not some ordinary domestic drama. One son nicks himself while shaving an intimate area. Another steps on something sharp. Cadi vomits into a bowl of food that she later serves to the family. Some dark trouble is clearly afoot.

The nature of the trouble is mostly kept vague, though the point is always clear. Glenda, Gwyn, Guto and Gweirydd — the four Gs — are a rapacious brood, consuming Wales’ most precious natural resources in both their private lives and as part of their family business. And Cadi is like an avenging spirit, sent by the land itself to show who’s really at the top of the food chain.

The movie’s last act gets splashed with gore, as the dinner goes awry. But even here, there’s an elegance to “The Feast” that makes its most disgusting images more palatable. The film takes its cues from Elwy’s remarkable performance as Cadi, who is at once seductive and terrifying. This is a story from the monster’s point of view as she walks into a nest of parasites and starts slowly, gleefully gobbling them up.

'The Feast'

In Welsh with English subtitles

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes

Playing: Starts Nov. 19 at Landmark Nuart Theatre, West Los Angeles; also on VOD