Review by L.L. Soares
For those who don’t know the story behind the making of the movie FEAST (2005), I’ll do a quick recap here. It all began with the show PROJECT GREENLIGHT, wherein Matt Damon and Ben Affleck chose a script and a director from a competition, and then the show followed the director as he takes the film from script to screen. The show lasted three seasons. The first two season resulted in small arthouse movies that frankly sounded pretty lame. So, for the third season, they decided to try to make a genre picture that might make actually make a profit. The director this time was John Gulager, an amateur filmmaker and all around schlub who’s also the son of actor Clu Gulagar. The script was a horror film by screenwriters Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton. Gulager had problems throughout the film’s production, first with the budget, then with trying to get various family members and his girlfriend in the cast (almost everyone related to him seems to be an actor). Once the film was actually made, against all odds, the studio that backed it, Miramax, ceased to exist and there was a chance the movie might never see the light of day. But somehow it got a very limited theatrical release before going to DVD (since then, it’s also spawned a couple of straight-to-DVD sequels).
After all of the obstacles that stood in its way, it’s amazing this film was ever completed. And since I was a fan of Gulager’s season of PROJECT GREENLIGHT (the first season of the show that was actually watchable!) I really wanted to see the final result. Gulager definitely seemed like an underdog throughout this story, trying to make the movie his way, and getting thwarted at almost every turn (and almost getting fired once or twice along the way).
The final cast includes Gulager’s father, Clu, as a crusty bartender, and his girlfriend Diane Goldner as a biker chick. So those are two victories for Gulager’s struggles. The rest of the cast includes such people as Henry Rollins as a motivational speaker, Balthazar Getty as a thugish bar patron, and Krista Allen (who has done everything from EMMANUEL softcore films early in her career to tons of television credits from CSI to SMALLVILLE, but who I first discovered in the short-lived HBO show UNSCRIPTED). There’s even Jason Mewes (barely onscreen) as a fictional version of himself – an out of work actor named Jason Mewes – whos’ one of the first people to die.
So now you’re up to speed. What’s the movie about? Well, it’s simple enough. A bunch of people in a bar suddenly get thrust into a nightmare when a lantern-jawed guy shows up with a sawed-off shotgun and tells them that a group of monsters are outside, and are going to try to kill them. It turns out this heroic-looking guy and his wife accidently hit a monster with their car out in the desert, and were attacked. Somehow they were able to last this long, but they’ve come to the bar for help, with the monsters in hot pursuit. So these people just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and now this motely crew of bar patrons have to fight for their lives.
The monsters themselves are never explained, which seems to be a good thing, because that way we never have to get caught up in origins that may not make sense. The actual violence in the film is filmed in fast-motion, almost to the point of being annoying (it’s not always easy to tell what’s happening). The creatures are fast and they’re vicious. At first they are dressed in animal skins and look like extremely tall beasts (there is even a baby one that spins around the bar like a whirlwind at one point, cutting everything it touches with razor-blade hands). Later, when we finally see what they look like, they’re similar to the Marvel Comics character Venom, maybe crossed with the creatures from ALIEN (1979).
In leiu of actually character development, we are instead treated to a scorecard as each character is introduced when the film begins. Each character’s image is frozen, and below them we get a list of stats, like a baseball card, telling us their name, something about them, and what their chances are of living through the movie are. This gives us background info for all of the character in the minimum amount of time, and provides some humor as well.
And then, the monsters close in.
The movie moves fast. You certainly won’t have a chance to be bored. And while the script is simplistic and rather cliché, I still found myself enjoying it while it was on. It’s not rocket science, and wasn’t even particularly scary, but it was a good time. I’ve certainly seen a lot of big Hollywood horror flicks that were much worse than FEAST. Considering what he had to work with, director Gulager seems to have fun with the material and has time for a few camera tricks.
If you like straight-on monsters vs. people movies that move fast, then you’re going to have a good time with FEAST.
As I said earlier, there were two sequels to FEAST – namely FEAST II – SLOPPY SECONDS (2008) and FEAST III – THE HAPPY FINISH (2009). These also went straight to DVD and were also directed by John Gulager. I’m really curious to see what Gulager would do on a production where he had a bigger budget. As it is, he seems to have done okay, despite being constantly under fire during the filming of the first FEAST movie.
Worth a rental when you’re in the mood for a silly popcorn monster movie.
© Copyright 2010 by L.L. Soares