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.