Sunday, October 7, 2007

A Gross FEAST


Last night's scary movie was Feast, from 2005, produced by Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and Wes Craven. I hadn't heard much about it—primarily a couple of negative reviews—so I went in with fairly low expectations. I actually ended up pleasantly surprised, for what we have here is a fast-moving, oftentimes gripping little monster movie, much in the vein of Tremors. Pretty damn gross and oftentimes funny.

Oh yes, there is gore aplenty. The movie starts with a car accident in the desert, and the survivors make their way to an isolated tavern. They explain that there are murderous things out in the dark, and "they're hungry." That they are, for within minutes, these ferocious, half-seen monstrosities with nasty great teeth launch an attack on the bar. Carnage abounds, and after the first bloody assault, the patrons realize they are trapped inside the building. For the rest of the movie's running time, the monsters devour some hapless victims, suffer a few retaliatory blows, then come round to do it all over again.

Unlike Tremors, however, Feast is handicapped by a cast of characters who are almost to the last one repulsive and, in some cases, as brutal as the monsters looking to kill them. While several of them display some entertaining wit, it's still exceedingly difficult to give a hoot about them, and only the movie's breakneck pace keeps the people scenes from ruining the whole business. Clu Gulager, one of my favorite character actors, manages to partially redeem the cast; with his typically easy-going and more genial demeanor, his role is marginally more engaging than the younger cast members'.

Humor abounds, occasionally falling flat, but succeeding just frequently enough to counteract the genuinely nasty taste of these characters. There's no earthly reason the writers couldn't have drawn people with more redeeming personalities; not everyone on the planet is a self-centered, foul-mouthed, lying, cheating piece of shit, and while tossing a few of them in the mix might suggest an authentic cross-section, populating the majority of the cast with them reeks of, at best, pandering to viewers' basest expectations ("They're gonna die, so they GOTTA be terrible, they just gotta!"), or, at worst, a genuine, lamentable tendency toward the misanthropic.

While the shortcomings in the character department are critical, they don't completely undermine the movie's entertainment value. So, with some reservations, I'm going to give Feast a B–. Had the filmmakers opted for more appealing people scenes, a la Tremors, it might have been a really terrific monster flick.

6 comments:

Dys7topia said...

Like you, Mark, I found parts of it enjoyable, particularly the labeling of each character and then proceeding to prove those labels erroneous, but it was a little TOO over the top in places (i.e. the mouth-humping scene). A better script could have made it a classic, I reckon, as the heart was certainly there.

Dys7topia said...

I used the wrong account there, Mark, so this is Kealan Patrick Burke.

Howdy!

Stephen Mark Rainey said...

Hey Kealan,

Yeah, there were any number of things that didn't work in this flick, but don't get me wrong -- I had a lot of fun watching this thing, and it was good for helping the ol' Halloween mood along. ;)

--M

Stewart Sternberg said...

I don't know, Mark, I just shook my head during most of this film. I know the shock value and absurdity of the story is part of its appeal, but I think it missed. And in a film like this, a miss is a kiss of death.

Now on the other hand, there's "Slither". That's a film that harkens back to the old grindhouse sensibilities and gets it right. Gross, funny, terrifying...it's the perfect blend. Not a great film, but then we wouldn't want it to be.

By the way, Mark, my film for tonight is "The Innocents" starring Deborah Kerr. I'm sure you've seen it before...it's a reworking of "Turn of the Screw."

Here's to the next few weeks of the best of horror films.

Stephen Mark Rainey said...

Never seen SLITHER; might be worth a look when I get the chance.

THE INNOCENTS is another favorite. Haven't seen it in many years; reckon I need to remedy that.

--M

David Niall Wilson said...

The problem at our house is that for an R or above movie to get showtime, it has to be a time when none of the youngin's are about...and with them being less and less young, those times are few and far between...this one slipped (apparently without much loss) between the cracks for me...

DNW