I’d never bothered to watch either of the first two film’s featured on HBO’s (and then BRAVO!’s) reality TV series, Project: Greenlight, but that’s probably because the creation of either of those films paled in comparison to the hellish process it seemed John Gulager went through with his project, “Feast”. Just seeing the perpetually uncomfortable, soft-spoken, and despondent director fidget his way through a meeting made me want to crawl out of my own skin, let alone imagine what it was like to be in his. The way I saw it, Feast was either going to be a massive failure or the stuff of genius. In the end it was neither; but it’s still a hell of a lot of fun.
Set in a secluded, southwestern bar, Feast is like one of those low-budget “trapped in a space station” or “stuck on a boat” flicks, in which a disparate group spends an entire film on one set, fending off mostly unseen forces, whilst arguing amongst themselves over just how it is they’ll survive the day, night, week, etc. It’s a classic formula that’s been used to great effect - see “Rope”, “Lifeboat”, and, to some degree, the original “Alien”. While not quite in the same league as those films, Gulager’s studio debut makes the most of its meager budget, and takes a somewhat clumsy screenplay (written by fellow P:G winners, Marcus Dunston and Patrick Melton) and infuses it with vivid, bloodsoaked imagery, hyper-kinetic camera moves, and good old fashioned practical FX work that calls to mind the monster cinema of the eighties.
There’s not a whole lot to describe about Feast. The film opens with an nifty segment introducing the generically named cast (Hero, Heroine, Bossman, Coach, etc.) before vaulting us into a non-stop siege by a “family” of creatures that sport animal carcasses and skins as some sort of rudimentary armor. The deaths are quick and brutal, the humor hits more often than it misses, and it seems that Gulager definitely knows what his audience wants to see (save for skin, which, given the film’s three lovely female leads, is a damned shame). The cast is an odd assortment of television actors, new faces, and indie darlings, including Jason Mewes (who plays Jason Mewes), Henry Rollins, Balthazar Getty, and the always entertaining Clu Gulager, who steals the show with his whipsmart delivery of some of the film’s best lines.
The DVD from The Weinstein company offers up a commentary track, deleted scenes, a short outtakes reel, and three short featurettes. Of course, the series which spawned the film is, perhaps, the most comprehensive making-of feature we’ll ever see for Feast, but, sadly, that’s a separate purchase altogether (and an essential one if you have any desire whatsoever to make a “Hollywood” feature). Still, I would have liked to see a bit more "meat" on the featurettes included here.
I have to admit that Feast wasn’t exactly what I envisioned it to be, but that’s actually sort of refreshing as I expected a straight horror flick and was instead rewarded with a nasty, funny, and ridiculously over-the-top splatter fest. While it’s all a bit rough around the edges, Gulager displays a style and attitude here that I haven’t seen since early Peter Jackson, and I truly can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.