A Welsh horror film that will leave you ravenous for more
The concept of a horror film set on one night, with one group of people, in one location, always carries an allure. A simple contained premise that could veer into anything, a test of creativity and originality. The Feast (Gwledd in its native Welsh) continues this tradition, but in a way is not just about one isolated night, it is about the cumulation of a wrath and retribution that has been brewing for decades, if not hundreds of years.
Glenda (Nia Roberts) is starting preparations for a dinner party with her husband, and local politician, Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones). Their sons Guto (Steffan Cennydd) and Gweirydd (Siôn Alun Davies) make up the family unit, all residing in a a stark and beautiful home, nestled amidst the mountains and valleys of Wales. Their guest of honor is businessman Euros (Rhodri Meilir), a man who has facilitated mining exploits on their land for years, who is now looking to extend his services to the other guests, their neighbors. To help things run smoothly, Glenda has enlisted Cadi (Annes Elwy), a girl from the local pub. She arrives looking rather dazed and in a near mute status, something that the family are oblivious to, as well as the news of her recent bereavement. Ever in their midst, a disorientated Cadi remains quiet. Absorbing stories, observing their self-serving behavior. Once the guests are in place and dinner is served, the uneasy quiet shifts into something far more perturbing.
The Feast deftly sketches out the unsavory quirks that define the members of this family. Glenda’s self-absorbed nature, Gwyn’s problems with anxiety, arrogance and alcohol, Guto’s addiction problems, and Gweirydd whose fitness obsession also alludes to some kinky predilections. There is a toxic, inward looking nature within them, something that explains how Cadi is able to quietly move amongst them. Pouring their irritations and conflict into this near-mute vessel is something that informs their eventual fates. The Feast mines that for a period of time, before adding in more unhinged elements, channeled through the character of Cadi. We see spikes of warning in her behavior, moments she connects with objects in the house or shows a visceral reaction to their activities. Throwing up at seeing slaughtered rabbits allude to her connection to the land. The cast, most notably the enigmatic Annes Elwy, give focused, authentic performances, fueling the slow burn horror that builds.
The Feast is deceptively simplistic but with fascinating depths. The script from Roger Williams is steeped in its surroundings and symbolism, tackling ideas of man pushing into the earth and the earth pushing back. This outsider venturing into the weird dynamics of this family results in this eco-fable colliding with folk horror. Director Lee Haven Jones delivers a film with remarkable precision and potent tone. Even something as simple as breaking down a pomegranate is given unnerving intensity. So delicately poised that it feels as if the film could teeter in any direction at any moment. What’s also impressive is that despite being so composed for the majority of the runtime, The Feast somehow manages to run the gamut of horror. Possession, body horror, ghost story, a straight-up “eat the rich” moment, and let’s not even get into the horrors of a dangerously placed piece of glass from a broken wine bottle.
Having grown up in Wales, it’s wonderful to hear the poetic language on screen. Melodic cadences that add to the buildup and rhythm, lulling you into a false sense of ease, despite the events on screen hinting at something untoward on the horizon. The other regional resource the film takes great advantage of is the vibrant Welsh countryside, showcased in stunning cinematography from Bjørn Ståle Bratberg. Equally impressive is the cool sense of unease built within the interior of this family home, a stark construct contrasting with the natural beauty outside. Samuel Sim’s uneasy score, and meticulous sound design caps off a truly immersive and unsettling work.
The Feast starts as a fracturing psychological horror that plunges into a supernatural fury, all rooted in the realms of folk horror. A tightly controlled buildup that descends into something karmic and primal — warning against environmental exploitation and a reminder to respect the Earth’s offerings to us. Utterly engrossing from start to finish, The Feast is a Welsh horror film that will leave you ravenous for more.