Review: Feast

Posted by Peter Hall - October 19th 2006 @ 9:48 pm

Directed by John Gulager, 2005

Feast sucks.  I’ve written and rewritten this introduction countless times now and regardless of how I try to word the drumroll, the punchline stays the same.  It sucks.  Period.  The end.

Project Greenlight’s editing would have led you to believe that the hapless John Gulager was to blame for the film’s stumbled production, but the buck should start at Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton’s sloppy script and end at the producers’ obtrusive influence.

Monsters attack bar.  People in bar fight monsters.  End story.

The problem is, Dunstan and Melton bog the script down with useless gimmicks that are too smug for their own good.  It starts with the character introduction title cards, each cutely equipped with a ‘life expectancy’ note.  They’re neither funny or useful and wear their welcome out after two characters.  The gore starts quickly, but it never interests because you never get into the performances.

And it is here that the producers meddling hands become obvious.  Save for Clu Gulager, Krista Allen, Henry Rollins (surprise!) and Balthazar Getty, the acting is tofu.  Navi Rawat, the Heroine casting choice that was made deftly behind Gulager’s back, is flat out bad.  She can memorize lines, but she can’t deliver them with any facial expression or voice fluctuation.  She’s like a parrot, only not as impressive.  Judah Friedlander is funny on Best Week Ever, but he’s not an actor.  There’s more dead weight, but fortunately the majority of them are either killed off fairly quickly or sit relatively speechless in a corner.  The only other mention worthy actress is Jenny Wade, but unfortunately she isn’t given anything to do but get covered in blood and then briefly show off her chest while changing clothes.

The bad acting wouldn’t be so noticeable if it wasn’t for the equally bad sound mix.  The characters are supposed to be in a bar, but instead of normal bar sounds, everything is dead.  And not creepy quiet, but an awkward silence that constantly reminds you that the actors are on a soundstage.  It’s as if the producers couldn’t be bothered to hire someone to do sound in post-production other than dialogue.  Because of this flat line in the audio department, any sound brought on by action is obnoxious and uncomfortably loud.

It doesn’t help that the obvious bar set severely limited Gulager’s shooting angles.  You never see the ceiling save for inserts or more than 3 walls in one shot.  The result is a nearly non-existent sense of the film’s geography.  Characters constantly wander in and out of areas that have no spatial relation to the room they were just in.  Most films are shot on sound stages these days, and that’s fine, but Feast requires complex set ups to successfully sell its action, yet is never afforded such luxury.

The makeup effects are better than I expected, but that’s not saying much.  When you are allowed to actually see the monsters, they look badass, but you never get to see one full frame for more than a second so no appreciation is ever achieved.  And the monsters themselves are boring.  The stupid script has them either plunging limbs through people or having sex and neither is as appealing as you’d like to think.

It’s a crude film.  Not in an affable, Porky’s kind of way, but in a spice rack built by Homer Simpson kind of way.  I’m not saying Gulager was blameless – there were more things to have salvaged from the wreckage – but he’s not the idiot Project Greenlight would have you believe he is.  I’m not sure I’d ever recommend he make another horror movie, but if he sticks with a dark, art-house vibe he could churn out something of higher quality than this drab midnight snack.

Even if you watched the series chronicling it’s production and were always curious as to how it turned out, please let this review save you 95 minutes that could be dedicated to more deserving film’s shafted by studios.


rss 6 comments
  1. Ripp
    October 20th, 2006 | 9:42 am | #1

    I finished watching it last night as well and felt the same way. You were with me when I thought about buying it and told me it was on your blind buy list. I bought it because of you and now I hate you.

  2. andy sell
    October 20th, 2006 | 12:19 pm | #2

    i watched it a second time and while i wasn’t nearly as impressed as i was during my maiden viewing, i still argue that the film is fun.

    most of the problems you describe (aside from the infuriating action sequences, choppy editing, and bad sound design – mostly the paranoid-schizo music) i find pretty charming.

    the geography/proxemics issues make the whole thing more surreal to me. the smugness of the opening “trading card” subtitles and the dialogue in the beginning, to me, is about setting up expectations that the film then goes on to totally shatter. the first time i saw this, i groaned when those things came up, even though a couple lines here and there were pretty funny. i thought “oh no, another oh-so-clever, oh-so-hip low budget filmmaker who thinks he’s horror’s next savior. spare me, dude.”

    and then there’s that moment. you know the one. and the cynical chip fell right off my shoulder.

    sure, alot of the dialogue throughout the film is way too self-aware. but it seemed to me that the actors knew it. or… maybe it had like a Plan 9 effect on me and I could just laugh with it. i’m not entirely sure. but the few ballsy moves here and there (ie: the kid) kept me afloat. i’ll totally agree that the thing has a fair share of problems. i just don’t find them quite as damning as you.

    a couple things should probably be mentioned though. i first saw this quite a while ago before all the fansite buzz started gushing all over itself. the only hype it had when i saw it were the project greenlight series and the fact that the weinsteins were sitting on it and nobody knew if it would ever get a release.

    also, i haven’t seen a single episode of project greenlight.

  3. October 21st, 2006 | 10:48 am | #3

    Just curious, did you watch it either time in a group setting? It’s clearly designed as a crowd pleaser, but for me it just didn’t do much except becoming progressively more annoying.

    I do think that a chunk of my distance from the set/characters had to do with watching every episode of Greenlight…it’s a good thing I don’t watch those online production diaries for upcoming movies.

  4. October 21st, 2006 | 11:25 am | #4

    Haha, just noticed it wasn’t on my Blind Buy list.

    Sucka!

  5. andy sell
    October 24th, 2006 | 1:36 pm | #5

    interestingly enough it was the second time i saw it that was in a group setting.

    the first time was totally by myself.

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