Feast had a bit of a name for itself before it was even seen thanks to the fact that it was the winner of the third season of Project Greenlight. But would the film deliver? Well, it's not a classic by any stretch but it sure is a whole lot of dumb, gory fun.
The premise is about as simple as it gets – a group of people made up of a bartender (Clu Gulager), the boss man (Duane Whitaker of Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III), two waitresses (Krista Allen and Jenny Wade), the beer delivery guy (Judah Friedlander) and a few customers (Jason Mewes, Henry Rollins, Josh Zuckerman and Balthazar Getty) – are sitting in a bar out in the middle of nowhere. A man rushes in covered in blood and wielding a shotgun ordering them to do what he says if they want to survive. Unsure what to think of all of this, they kind of give him a blank stare until a monster eats him and rips off his head. From there, the would be hero's wife comes looking for him only to find his dead body missing its head. One of the monsters gets inside, rips off Jason Mewes' face and humps a deer head mounted to the wall and the race is officially on. The rest of the movie simply our band of humans trying to figure out how to outwit the monsters that have surrounded the bar so that they can make it out of there alive.
If the plot sounds a little bit like the last half of From Dusk Till Dawn that's because the movie definitely has its share of similarities from the premise to some of the humor used throughout. That being said, Feast gets enough right that even if it isn't going to take home any awards for originality it is still a whole lot of fun to watch. First and foremost is the gore quotient. This is one wet movie and it doesn't shy away from some seriously impressive doses of the red stuff. It's a bloody, messy, splattery movie with some impressive and disgusting effects work and a nice lack of CGI enhancement. Maggots pile out of an eye socket, a face gets punched into a pulp and then the victim's innards are torn out through it's throat. Feet are blown off. Legs are severed. A face is torn right off of its skull and there's a lot of green monster puke. There's a repulsive but hilarious castration scene and lots of gurgling and spitting of blood and thankfully the camera does not shy away from even a second of it. Director John Gulager (son of Clu who plays the bartender), in his directorial debut, has crafted a surprisingly gory monster movie the likes of which we haven't seen in quite some time.
The other really big plus that the movie has working in its favor is the humor, most of which comes from the stereotypical characters that the writers have set up for us and how, in turn, many of them are knocked down. The beginning of the film does a 'freeze frame' on each of the characters when we see them for first time and when it does we see facts about them, their nicknames, and their life expectancy and it's funny to see how, later in the movie when it all hits the fan, the filmmakers completely toy with those expectancies. The actors play to the stereotypes that have been created for them (Rollins doing a particularly good job of playing his 'motivational speaker' part while covered in blood and wearing ladies pink track pants) and they do a fine job of it. The result is a sort of self referential horror movie that, despite some awkward dialogue, works quite well as a send up of the genre that it so gleefully wallows in.
The main problem with the film, aside from the fact that it is fairly derivative, is the camera work and the editing. Part of the reason that the film cuts so fast is likely to make us feel like we're in the thick of things with the characters and another reason might be so that we don't get too lingering a look at the monsters but there are scenes in this film that are cut so fast and with such quick moving camerawork that it's hard to tell just what exactly is going on. Even with these flaws, however, horror movie fans should enjoy Feast - it's insanely fast paced with a great ensemble cast of fun actors and actresses, it's gory as Hell, and it's pretty damn funny too.
The 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is quite good but it isn't flawless. There are a few scenes with some slightly noticeable compression artifacts as well as some rather obvious line shimmering in places as well. The image is pretty clean but sometimes fine detail does get a little murky in the darker scenes. Overall, though, everything here is acceptable even if it could have been better. Color reproduction is good (things are intentionally brown and yellow toned here) and flesh tones look lifelike and natural. The camera moves around a lot and when it does, it moves fast so there's a little bit of blurriness to some of these scenes but that seems to have been intentional on the part of the filmmakers.
The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track is pretty aggressive as you'd expect from a film of this nature. Though the rears could have had more punch to them in a few scenes the mix does do a really good job of bringing the action and horror scenes to life. Dialogue stays clean and clear throughout and there aren't any issues to note as far as hiss or distortion goes. Levels are properly balanced and the score used for the film sounds clear as well. An English closed captioning option is available from the menu.
First up, in terms of supplements, is a commentary track with co-writers Marcus Dunstan, and Patrick Melton, director John Gulager, co-producers Michael Leahy and Joel Soisson, special effects technician Gary Tunnicliffe and editor Kirk M. Morri. Possibly because the making of the film was covered in a lot of detail on Project Greenlight these guys spend most of their time making fun of each other and of the movie that they made together. This is a very funny commentary with a lot of good natured ribbing though there are definitely slightly tenser moments here when they talk about having to work with or against the producers on certain aspects of the movie and compromises that had to be made. There's also some interesting information contained in and amongst the goofing off such as what it was like shooting certain scenes on location, how certain parts of the script were changed on the fly and what it was like working with some of the actors. It's a good group talk and even if it doesn't always stay on topic, like the movie itself, it's quite a bit of fun.
From there we move on to the first or two featurettes - The Blood And Guts Of Gary Tunnicliffe is, as you might expect from the title, a look at the effects work that Tunnicliffe managed to conjur up for the film. He talks about how he got into doing effects work and what the best way to make fake blood is (he used a lot of it for this film!) and he comes across as a genuinely likeable guy who really has a passion for what he's doing. There's some great behind the scenes footage in here too as well as a few interviews with some of the cast members who had to let Tunnicliffe do his thing to them for the shoot.
The second featurette, Horror Under the Spotlight: Making Feast, covers what it was like to make a movie while a television show was filming the filmmaker's every move. There's some solid behind the scenes footage here and some good interview clips with Gulager who talks about how he shot some footage on his own to use in the film. Though other cast and crew members are talked to here, the focus is primarily on Gulagar and his talents and it does do a good job of giving us a different sort of look at the man than was seen on Project Greenlight.
Also included are a few deleted scenes and an alternate ending. While it makes sense that these were taken out of the movie as they would have hurt the pacing it is nice to see them here as we do get some more character development from them. The alternate ending is interesting to see but the one that was used in the final version is superior and more in keeping with the humorous tone of the film. Just under three-minutes worth of outtakes from the film are also included and they're pretty humorous and worth a watch just to see Clu Gulager doing his thing.
Menus and chapter stops are included on the disc but before you get to them you'll find yourself wading through some trailers and promo spots for other Weinstein Brothers productions though you can fast forward through them if you want.
A nice mix of humor, action and horror makes Feast a fun film for the horror fan in your home. The gore is completely over the top and the movie doesn't let up at all once the storyline kicks in. Dimension's disc looks okay and sounds quite good and they've thrown a few decent extra features into the mix as well making this one recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.