REVIEW: The Feast (2021)

dir. Lee Haven Jones

An incredibly tense Welsh language folk horror, The Feast follows the traditional trope of city-folk-versus-rural-countryside but with more guts than your average The Wicker Man clone.

Written by producer Roger Williams, director Haven Jones’ feature debut takes place mainly in a large, modern house that’s completely at odds with the surrounding farm land. Inside lives politician Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones), his perfectionist wife Glenda (Nia Roberts) and his two troubled adult sons Guto (Stefan Cennydd) and Gweirydd (Sion Alun Davies). When Cadi (Annes Elwy) – a young server hired for a dinner party – arrives she’s mostly silent, observing the family and the drama they’re constantly teetering on the edge of as preparations for the evening’s festivities begin.

As the night continues conversation turns to nearby mining operations, and Glenda is warned by a neighbour of local folklore which tells of something hidden in the earth, and how it should never be disturbed. Unfortunately for the family – and their guests – dark secrets and darker beings don’t stay buried.

Folk horror has had something of a renaissance in recent years, with Robert Egger’s The VVitch (2015), Ben Wheatley’s In the Earth (2021) and Kate Dolan’s You Are Not My Mother (2022) all garnering critical success. A characteristic that connects them all is a return to the land, to the roots of culture, and in this The Feast is no different. Planting itself firmly in the Welsh countryside, culture and language there’s a defiant stance which establishes the film as deeply and quintessentially connected to Welsh folkloric tradition.

The dichotomy between the countryside and the normally city-dwelling family is so stark that it sets up an uncanny and tense atmosphere from the off, a feeling which continues when Cadi is introduced: almost silent, save for singing or despairing about the rabbits Gwyn has killed for the evening meal, she seems to be a potential victim, though it soon becomes apparent – with a slow creeping terror – that this is not the case at all.

With incredible performances across the board Roberts and Elwy particularly shine, carrying the story and its moral lessons on their backs. The gore is stomach churning yet not overused, adding shock when it does hit in one particular moment of body horror. Together the result is a slow burning nightmare of extreme uneasiness with a satisfying, bloody finale. 

Ygraine Hackett-Cantabrana


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