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The terrifying tale of a motley crew of strangers who find themselves trapped in an isolated tavern and must band together in a battle for survival against a family of flesh-hungry creatures.
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That’s the simplest synopsis ever written, but it’s just as easy as that. This is the famed film of television creation. No, it’s not a made for TV Movie, it’s a made by TV feature film created by one of those reality competition shows. I know, why is there even a review on a film created in such vain of all that is good and quality? Well the answer is simple – it’s damn good. That’s why. Feast takes what seems to be a very effective plot of a simple elevator setting – locking our characters in one place to be picked off one by one. It’s also very cheap on the budget. Regardless, the film is a great thrill ride (yes, I just used one of those quotes you see in Television spots) but this one deserves it.
The Story: We’re introduced to stereotypical characters via title cards that freeze frame and give us a run down on who they are, what they do, how old they are and get this – what stereotype they fulfill and how long they’re expected to live. This is one of the most ingenious things I’ve ever seen done in a horror film. Instead of dragging on for 10-20 minutes setting up this ensemble of characters we know who they are and more importantly, the humor factor is immediately established. I don’t want to go to much further into the happenings of the film but Feast shines lights on just about every horror movie rule and then exploits it to both horrific and hilarious ends. When you watch this movie, you’re either laughing at the ridiculous aspects, laughing at the reality of how grounded and well thought out each character is or cowering under a blanket because of the horror. When I say no one is safe in this film, I mean it. It breaks so many storytelling conventions in general but actually says “hey….we’re going to break this rule right now ok?” and that completely justifies it.
Directing: I never had the opportunity to watch the show when it was on so I’m not sure how he was on set, but I did have an opportunity to meet Mr. Gulagner when he visited my film school for a screening of this film. He seemed like a fun guy with an interesting take on film making and such. This film demonstrates his ability and in my opinion, the man was born to direct entertaining films.
Cinematography: A rare catch for horror, and indy horror no less = 35mm in 2:35:1. Maybe I’m just a sucker for a horror film in full wide screen, but I think it adds a more legitimate quality to the otherwise “cheap” films. Everything is gritty and the color tones and lighting really help to establish a comfortable mood. I never felt annoyed watching the colors and designs of the shot – a commonality that happens some days with horror films. Either way, I dug it.
Production Design: There’s something great about low budget films, especially ones that rely on realism to draw the viewer into the world. Horror movies should always be about being as real as possible. There’s no other way to effectively warrant an audiences emotion and suspension of disbelief. If there’s any genre of film that relies on emotionally influencing an audience it’s the horror genre. The production design on this film is severely limited by the budget and how things are used and shot. And that box pushed the film makers to find effective ways to illustrate the horror instead of falling back on “proven” cliché scares. That to me is a gift within a curse and I’m glad a fun movie like Feast had it.
Editing: Again, talking about the creative box. While I think the coverage was substantial in shooting the production design limited a lot of the scares that needed to be effective in the editing. The two genres that rely on editing the most are once again, comedy and horror. Everything is dependant on their timing and if the editing doesn’t reflect that you’ll lose your audience. Luckily, the editing on this film is great and works for both areas to make for a solid entertaining experience.
Score: Now, obviously, it hurts a little here to have a limited score, if any. The indy budget puts a cap on that, but truth be told, everything is so effective in this film that they could have been completely without score and I wouldn’t have notice. Hell…I actually can’t remember if there was a score aside from some of the comedic moments and the spoofing of the genre rules.
Special Effects: Horrible. But they work because of acting, story, editing and cinematography. It’s proof in the pudding that if you are a creative artist you can find your way around monetary problems to still convey effective moments in your storytelling and filmmaking.
In closing: Feast is fun, inventive and a damn good horror joy ride. If you know nothing about it going in, you’re going to be caught off guard and then have a blast. If you do know what your getting into, you’re still going to have a blast, you’ll just know it ahead of time. The point I’m trying to make is, if you don’t like laughing and being scared then you won’t enjoy this movie. But if you can take a thrill ride, this is a great movie to watch with a bunch of friends. I highly recommend it.