Welsh-language horror film The Feast is the directorial debut from Lee Haven Jones and tells the story of a lavish three-course dinner set in a modern country house. In attendance is the father who is the local MP, the mother, the two dysfunctional sons, a local businessman Euros and their older neighbouring farmer Mair. Helping to prepare the titular feast is Cadi, a local girl who appears to have something strange about her. At first this seems to be some sort of social anxiety or shyness, but as the film evolves and weirder things begin occurring, questions of the supernatural and folk legend emerge.
Despite an opening scene that features some extremely abrasive sound design, much of the opening two thirds of The Feast rely on atmosphere rather than traditional genre action and gore. The style of the house itself contributes a lot to this with its isolated setting acting as equally desirable and unnerving. Much like the appearance of Cadi in the upper class home, the house is both an intruder and a welcome gift, proudly sitting atop the Welsh rural hills.
In keeping with this, much of the film is about the illusion of appearances – whether it’s the father who proclaims his Welsh identity despite giving over his farmland to be mined for extreme profit, or his son Gweirydd who appears to have turned over a new leaf after an unspoken tragedy only to fall back into his twisted ways. This indictment of power and its ties to capitalism follows through into the film’s commentary on masculinity as each of the male characters seem to embody a form of toxicity that prioritises self ambition, gluttony and greed.
However, as the final act evolves into more familiar horror imagery, the commentary surrounding national identity and class goes from a subtly well chosen whiskey brand to literalised metaphors that compare rich people to pigs. Whilst this form of vengeance against the capitalist patriarchy is certainly cathartic and exhilarating in some of the latter sequences, the inclusion of explanatory flashback montages comes across as overkill and takes away from the rather tactile and wince-inducing filmmaking on show. Whilst many of the film’s sequences provide impressive sensory horror, their ideas never quite string together due to some slightly cluttered pacing and the occasional uninspired creative choice.
All that being said, this is still a worthy addition to the recent folk horror canon as it uses genre imagery to cleverly tackle prescient issues of national identity and culture despite its occasionally heavy-handed storytelling.