If you ever invite Judge Eric Profancik to your house for a feast, don't forget the figgy pudding. He won't leave until he gets some.
Three is everyone's favorite number in Hollywood. If you can stretch out a film into a trilogy, you're money. If you have one television show with a great concept, borrow it and create a couple more. With Project Greenlight it wasn't that nefarious, but it did end up lasting three seasons, creating three films along the way. Have you seen or even heard any of them: Stolen Summer, The Battle of Shaker Heights, or Feast? It's quite easy to have missed them, as Miramax dumped a million dollars into the production of them and then gave each a pathetic release. (Clarification: Miramax dumped the first two and the Weinsteins took the last one with them when they left the company.)
What you need to know is that Feast and the third season of Project Greenlight deserved bigger acclaim and attention. Seeing Feast without seeing the TV show behind it doesn't allow you to know what a colossal freak first-time director John Gulager is. What he did and tried to do were startlingly entertaining. And, knowing this, seeing the final result of Feast puts in all in a new perspective.
If you don't know the history, then all you'll see is a cheap horror flick. Fortunately, it still has its moments.
Facts of the Case
In a rundown bar somewhere in the American desert, night falls and a group of strangers is attacked by monsters. It'll be up to Hero (Eric Dane, X-Men 3), Heroine (Navi Rawat, Numb3rs), Tuffy (Krista Allen, Unscripted), Bozo (Baltazhar Getty, Alias), Hot Wheels (Josh Zuckerman (Austin Powers in Goldmember), Harley Mom, Beer Guy, Bartender (Clu Gulager), Edgy Cat (Jason Mewes, Clerks II), Honey Pie (Jenny Wade, Rumor Has It), Boss Man (Duane Whitaker, Pulp Fiction), Grandma (Eileen Ryan, Magnolia), Vet (Anthony "Treach" Criss), and Coach (Henry Rollins) to stay alive until morning.
I normally don't list every character in the movie, but their names should give you a clue to the irreverent, tongue-in-cheek nature of Feast. It's a B-movie that knows it's a B-movie, embraces it, and goes for the jugular. Feast is a horror/action/comedy hybrid that does well in all of its personalities. First and foremost it is most certainly horror, but the other two facets help round out the film.
There are basically two types of horror out there: the psychological and the physical. Examples of the former include The Ring and The Shining, while the latter range from Day of the Dead to A Nightmare on Elm Street. This second category is more commonly known as gore or slasher, and Feast is a gory movie on a budget—being somewhere between one and two million if memory serves from Project Greenlight. You'll actually be surprised at how good the film looks on such a small budget. A little creativity and ingenuity will go a long way.
One place that wasn't skimped on was the gore. Lots of people die violently in this movie, and outside of the typical jump cuts, you'll not miss much. You can't miss much, because Gulager loves to show the gore, and when you think it's done, it's just the beginning. Why use just a little blood or green goo when buckets and buckets and buckets get the point across so much more clearly? It's the excess that makes it all the more amusing.
So why is Feast an action movie? Admittedly, it only fits that under the loosest definition of the word, and it's really the first attack sequence that inspired me to categorize it as such. When our weird monsters attack the bar, things happen fast and furious. It's an amazingly energetic, frenetic, chaotic, action-packed sequence. It's one thing after another, and it sets a high bar for the rest of the movie. When the dust settles, you're on a high.
As a B-movie, Feast not only revels in the blood but the dark humor. From the opening credits, you can tell the humor is going to be a bit black. Not all of it will work for everyone, but it's a great way to enhance the movie. Whether you like the idea of giving all the characters goofy names, title cards with "life expectancies," monsters humping animal trophies, or acerbic jokes and corny dialogue, you'll find a few laughs along the way.
With a B-movie come "B" transfers. The 2.40:1 anamorphic print doesn't have the depth and level of realism and clarity we've seen with other transfers. It isn't bad, but I found that colors weren't as crisp and accurate as they could have been and blacks seemed a bit on the soft side. A few times I even noticed some horizontal noise lines running across the screen. Audio fares better, and the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix gives us clean dialogue out the center, a smattering of ambience from the surrounds, and occasional bass from the woofer.
Special features are a bit on the skimpy side on this single-disc release. Starting it all off is a filmmaker commentary that features John Gulager, producers Mike Leahy and Joel Soisson, writers Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, and effects guy Gary Tunnicliffe. It's not a bad track, but I couldn't help but want a solo track from Gulager. Next are five deleted scenes (7.5 minutes), which are more scene extensions that anything. "Horror Under the Spotlight: Making Feast" (11 minutes) is a quick and dirty and relatively good synopsis of the making of the film, but it pales in comparison to Project Greenlight. "The Blood and Guts of Gary Tunnicliffe: Gore on a Budget" (9.5 minutes) is self-explanatory as is "A Small Feast of Outtakes" (3 minutes) and the Feast Soundtrack Promo.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Though we've recognized Feast as a B-movie, there are still a few problems that stand out beyond that classification. Notably, some of the dialogue is horrendously clichéd. Was that the point? Maybe, but it was hard to tell if that was part of the humor or just bad writing. Lacking that confusion is some of the acting, namely from our heroines who are quite awful. Their line recitation ranks right up there with a George W. Bush speech. What really leaves you wanting is the climax. I mentioned how that first monster attack was quite exciting, but the final showdown doesn't even register as the finale until it's over. And, then, you say that's it? The climax needed more action, more gore, and more oomph.
I watched Feast with a friend and quickly realized she is not a horror fan. We debated my assertion as she claims to love horror. I say she's a psychological horror fan and not a physical horror fan, for the only slasher movie she likes is the original Chainsaw Massacre. My point is, obviously, that this film won't appeal to everyone. I enjoyed its odd combination of comedy and horror, and appreciated it even more because I had seen Project Greenlight. (It's a shame that season has yet to be released.) I'm recommending Feast for rental, and you'll enjoy its earnest horror campiness.
Feast is hereby found guilty of sneezing on the buffet.
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