In the early to mid-2000s, as reality television started to boom, HBO and then Bravo hosted Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s Project Greenlight. Specifically, the series saw aspiring filmmakers pitch their screenplays with the winner getting the opportunity to make their dream project. The 2005 winners, Marcus Dunston (The Collector, Saw IV) and Patrick Melton (Unhuman), got to make their monster movie project, Feast, with John Gulager directing. Not many people got to see Feast in theaters; it failed to recoup its own small budget. And critics were divided on the low-budget mix of gross-out horror, humor, and practical effects.
Somewhere in the Nevada desert, at a rundown bar called ‘The Trap, several strangers find themselves trapped. Outside, waiting in the dark, mysterious creatures are preying on the patrons one by one. With no help coming, the strangers must band together to fight for their survival.
Feast an Outrageous, Self-Aware Homage to B-Monster Movies
Though it won the screenplay contest of Project Greenlit, Feast takes a pretty straightforward approach to its monster movie premise. Little attention is paid to character backstories or monster origins. Instead, writers Marcus Dunston and Patrick Melton craft what’s essentially a homage to B-monster movies that borrows the simple siege setup of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. As a result, director John Gulagar is free to adopt a quick pace to the action, pausing here and there to allow audiences to attach to some of the survivors. Where Feast diverges from other monster movies it its willingness to unexpectedly say goodbye to characters. Back in 2005, several years before The Walking Dead premiered, most movies like this one followed a standard formula. In particular, one death completely subverts horror conventions.
But Feast further sets itself apart from similar movies with its embracing of self-aware comedy. That is, Dunston and Melton serve up a steady stream of absurdist, goofy, and occasionally dark humor. Much of the humor lands adding some levity that keeps the horror-comedy from ever feeling too intense. To some extent, this is both a strength and a weakness as Feast often feels a bit inconsequential. Moreover, some of the self-aware humor trolls a bit too hard for its own good. The onscreen text introducing us to the various characters, for instance, feels like it’s trying too hard for its own good.
Feast Has Some Surprising Character Moments Alongside Fun Practical Gore Effects
For diehard horror fans, Feast stands out for the simple reason that it relies exclusively on practical effects. Gulager, Melton, and Dunston may borrow Romero’s siege setup, but they show affection for Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead movies. Though it’s never a scary or suspenseful horror-comedy, there’s no shortage of outrageous, gruesome set-pieces. Limbs are severed, heads are crushed, and blood sprays in all directions. Casual horror fans may turn their noses up at the monster effects – after all, this is a modestly budgeted horror-comedy. However, purists will appreciate the craftsmanship on display.
Though it’s never a scary or suspenseful horror-comedy, there’s no shortage of outrageous, gruesome set-pieces.
Like any good siege thriller, Feast backs ups its practical gore effects with a fun cast of eccentric characters. And the irreverent approach to the material ensures you shouldn’t get attached to anyone for too long. Standouts include Balthazar Getty (#Horror), Clu Gulager (Return of the Living Dead), and Henry Rollins (Wrong Turn 2: Dead End). Comedian Judah Friedlander (Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever) dives headlong into a gross-out role. But Feast benefits from some surprisingly emotional character arcs even if there isn’t a lot of depth to the movie. In particular, Krista Allen’s (The Final Destination) ‘Tuffy/Heroine 2’ delivers an unexpected third act boost to the proceedings.
Feast Offers a Mostly Satisfying Monster Mash for Diehard Horror Fans
Not everything works with Feast. Hit and miss humor, a familiar monster movie set-up, and a steady stream of practical effects gore won’t appeal to everyone. Yet Feast is a consistently fun horror-comedy that’s equal parts irreverent and raucous. With fun performances and some surprising character developments alongside breezy pacing, it’s hard not to have fun with this self-aware B-monster movie. Enough goodwill emerged from this one to justify two direct-to-video sequels.