Warning: The soundtrack for this film is very likely to trigger migraines.

The first scene immediately sets the tone by framing a death scene with discordant, high pitched metallic sounds juxtaposing an idyllic, bright green farm. Within moments, the viewer gets a taste of what The Feast is going to be like. Fans of transcendental horror like Midsommar and The Lighthouse will surely be watching with their mouths watering.

IFC Midnight’s The Feast follows a young woman serving privileged guests at a dinner party in a remote house in rural Wales. The assembled guests do not realize they are about to eat their last supper.

The actors excel at making you uncomfortable, especially Annes Elwy as Cadi. As the help hired to prepare dinner for the guests of an esteemed member of parliament, Cadi has her work cut out for her. Yet she wanders the house, spying on the family, trying on their trinkets, and giving us a feeling that there is something more to her to be discovered.

Its soundscaping is unusual, employing many high pitches and unsettling elements during scene transitions to catch one off guard. While effective, it did prove irksome and painful for those prone to migraine triggers. Whether it’s a broken guitar string, a tea kettle going off, or a character experiencing pain, we experience the exaggerated sensation with them. After several uses, I found myself desiring something closer to Kurosawa’s soundtracks for a similar effect with less aural abuse.

The Feast follows through on its sumptuous promise where visuals are concerned. Bright colors contrast with simplistic, yet striking clothing for scenes that nearly all look frame-worthy. If the backgrounds are subtle, the balance is retained with vibrant clothing. Balance and aesthetic is kept in mind for every frame. Food is displayed in a way that has rarely been seen since Hannibal.

Pacing is that of a slow burn, traditional in transcendental horror. The first two acts take their time developing, leaving you on edge without satisfaction, waiting for the crux when all the subtly will pay off.

There is ample sexual content, tying into both the psychological and uncomfortable aspects within the story. Sometimes by tying it with gore, other times the taboo, The Feast wants us to take a look at what it is the characters desire, and see that exploited in their downfall.

It wouldn’t be transcendental horror without progressive themes, so be ready for plenty of metaphors, female empowerment and revenge, Mother Nature, and so on. The Feast neatly checks all of those genre boxes, while still playing with the execution. The third act reveals Cadi’s secret, which while not to be considered a twist, had enough substance to perform as a satisfying main course. The provocative effects increased towards the ending, enhancing what could have been a subpar ending.

While creepiness isn’t lacking, character development is rather superficial. We are given aspects such as drug user, marathoner, etc., but it rarely dives much deeper. For a film relying on a psychological tone, I would have liked to get to know the characters better. However, what it lacks in ethos, it makes up for in tension. One will definitely feel more hesitant to invite guests for dinner after watching this.

If you’re an IFC Midnight fan, or familiar with the genre, take the time to check out The Feast. For those with less patience, it might not be the best first choice for exposure. For those invested, it’s a thought-provoking study: a Welsh take on a traditionally American trope.

 

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