A Welsh-language folk horror that unsettles and churns the stomach, upcoming film The Feast is an arthouse chiller with a social conscience. A well-to-do but extremely dysfunctional family headed by chilly matriarch Glenda (an excellent Nia Roberts) are hosting a dinner. They have a brutally modern house set amidst rural Welsh countryside, at odds with the traditional way of life in the surrounding area; Roberts’ husband Gwyn, played by Julian Lewis Jones, is a politician, and his job means they spend more time in London than in Wales.
They also have two sons, drug addict Guto (Steffan Cennydd) and creepy triathlete Gweirydd (Sion Alun Davies). Both of these men have scandals in tow: Gweirydd is a narcissist who abuses women, Guto has nearly died from a drug overdose. They are kept out of the way at the house, with a view to preventing further scandal. Into their midst comes Cadi, played with eerie detachment by Annes Elwy – a last-minute replacement to help with a dinner they have that night. Caves discovered under their land could prove lucrative mineral sources; Glenda and Gwyn need to convince their farming neighbours to allow their land to be excavated. The land itself has other ideas.
Elwy drifts through the preparations, mostly ignored by the self-involved family. She is lower class, decidedly less connected than those she serves – but she has a terrible secret, which snowballs horrifically as the evening progresses. Rhodri Meilir (In My Skin, My Family) provides some levity as Euros, a venal developer with a voracious appetite out to make a profit, and Lisa Palfrey has quiet dignity as the farmer’s wife for whom the feast is being thrown.
A slow-burn horror, heavy on atmosphere and discomforting dread from writer Roger Williams (an experienced scribe for Welsh language TV hits like Bang), The Feast starts off feeling like a Chekhov play before descending into full-blown terror. Wince-inducing imagery ranging from vomit on a plate of food, hairs in a canape, the sound of teeth being broken by a gun muzzle and a truly horrific sexual encounter involving strategically-placed broken glass adds real bite to the proceedings. The cast is all excellent under Lee Haven Jones’ assured, patient direction, in a lyrical and poetic film about history and responsibility, greed and the rape of the land – one which still manages some gross-out gore.
Dir: Lee Haven Jones (18, 93 mins)
The Feast is out Fri 19 Aug
words KEIRON SELF
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