Feast (United States, 2006)

A movie review by James Berardinelli

Zero-star movies are a rare and terrifying breed - films that warrant recommendation only as an alternative to physical distress. Sitting in a theater as one of these examples of cinematic diarrhea unspools creates a curious tug-of-war within the viewer. On one hand, there's an almost overwhelming desire to flee from the auditorium, to get away as far and as fast as is humanly possible. On the other hand, there's a compulsion to stay - the result of a sick fascination to see if the production can possibly get worse. Such is the case with Feast, a "horror/comedy" whose dreadfulness has defeated the marketing whizzes at Dimension Films. Rather than merely dumping Feast into theaters, Dimension has elected to do a "limited dump" - the film is showing only twice (Friday at midnight; Saturday at midnight). After that, it will move to the DVD realm, where its midnight exposure will allow it to avoid the ignominy of being labeled a "direct-to-DVD" feature.

The plot couldn't be more straightforward: a group of ne'er-do-wells become trapped in an isolated bar trying to keep a group of monsters on the outside from getting inside. That's it. That's the entire movie. There's certainly nothing in the premise to tickle the intellect. The idea, I suppose, is to keep things simple so that viewers who are under the control of mind altering substances will be able to follow the story, because that's probably the only state (other than catatonic or comatose) in which someone would get past the first ten minutes.

The word "unwatchable" is overused when it comes to bad movies, but this is a case when its employment does not represent hyperbole. First-time director John Gulager appears clueless when it comes to simple aspects of filmmaking like how to move a camera without inducing motion sickness. Shaky, hand-held shots, incessant swish pans, and low lighting combine to transform scenes with even a small amount of action into indecipherable blurs. Roughly half the movie is like this. The best way to approach the non-static scenes in Feast is to take a short nap then do a body count when it's over. Aside from a few fountains of inky blood and the occasional maggot, you won't miss much.

To give Gulager some credit, he's apparently aware that his movie is crap. But all the self-referential humor and intentional campiness is part of the problem. In trying to be hip and funny, Gulager proves that there's a fine line between parody and stupidity. We have seen this sort of thing too many times for it to be inventive or clever. It's tired, and the filmmakers fail to find a way to invest it with anything fresh. (Here's a novel concept: why not try to make a horror film scary?) When the "hero" expires shortly after making his first appearance, it feels like a pale copy of Samuel L. Jackson's exit in Deep Blue Sea. Other offbeat moments are equally lame. Feast makes Snakes on a Plane look like the pinnacle of cinematic achievement.

Zero stars does not mean the movie is completely without merit. By my estimate, the film includes approximately 45 seconds of worthwhile material (a couple of amusing visual gags, one of which features a stalled car and occurs just in advance of the end credits). Since the running length is short of 90 minutes, that means about 0.9% of Feast merits viewing. That means 9 cents of your $10.00 movie ticket is well spent.

I haven't mentioned the acting, and there's a reason. Suffice it to say that the cast is not comprised of future Oscar nominees. I can't write much about the look of the monsters because they only appear during the action sequences and, as a result, are barely glimpsed through the blur that represents the cinematography. This relieves the filmmakers from any responsibility of making them appear convincing. Based on limited exposure, they seem to be inspired by H.R Giger's Alien design, but that's standard for this sort of movie.

Feast has modest expectations, but it fails even the Grade-Z exploitation flick test. Such bottom-of-the-barrel cheesy movies have only two requirements - lots of T&A and action. There's plenty of the latter, although it's impossible to follow due to the shoddy camerawork and "atmospheric" lighting. However, despite the presence of three attractive females, there's no flesh (unless you count a brief cleavage shot). Consider what this says about the director: In an R-rated film with few "name" actors, there's not a single gratuitous shot of a naked breast. Talk about not understanding the genre or the audience! Partaking in this feast may well cause terminal indigestion.

Feast (United States, 2006)

Run Time: 1:27
U.S. Release Date: 2006-09-22
MPAA Rating: "R" (Violence, Profanity, Sexual Situations)
Subtitles: none
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1