September 24, 2006

Movie Review: Feast

First off, when I saw the listing for this at the theater, I had no idea that it was the result of Project Greenlight. Of course, I found that out relatively quickly (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon among the producers was a hint). I just saw the name Feast and the horror genre applied to it, and I new I was interested. What followed was a debate on whether or not to see it on the big screen or what for its DVD release, which is coming next month. Then I viewed the trailer, and my answer was pretty obvious, I had to see it on the big screen.

The trailer had a lot of what I have been wanting to see on the big screen, but doesn't happen too often. It showed the promise of action, blood, gore, witty one liners, and Henry Rollins! How could I go wrong?

The story is simple, anyone who has seen a few horror films will be familiar with it. A group of strangers are trapped inside some location while unseen creatures menace them from outside. There are elements if Alien, From Dusk til Dawn, and Evil Dead all at work here, not to mention countless others. Fortunately, this is a genre where formula can work, and, at times, is something to strive for. The key is to bring energy and style to the proceedings. I don't ask for much, just a little blood mixed with a little fun. Feast delivers on both counts.

First off, the story of what the evil is, is actually told in the trailer, so be sure to watch that before you see the movie. Or not, it doesn't really matter, who cares where the baddies came from? I don't, I just want to see some death, preferably in a bloody fashion. OK, OK, let's get to the film.

The film starts off with a car crash, before quickly jumping to a bar in the middle of nowhere. Inside this bar is a motley assortment of characters, some of which are the type you would normally find there, while others are just passing through. In other words, it is just the right mix of people for a lonely bar along the highway that is about to come under siege from some flesh eating beasties. And this group of people is where director John Gulager's creativity steps in. In a step that has been seen before, but feels fresh in Gulager's hands, each character is introduced by a freeze frame with a title card. We are given a name, which is more related to their role than any real name, as none are given, things like "Hero," "Bossman," "Grandma," and "Coach." Then there is a distinguishing characteristic, or something a little funny which could come into play as the film progresses. Finally, the best part, we get their life expectancy, which is not always accurate, but helps give an idea of what is yet to come (as if you didn't already now).

After the introductions are made, we are thrown into the action when "Hero" arrives warning them of the impending threat. Sadly, he does not live up to his title card and is quickly dispatched. Shortly thereafter, "Heroine" arrives to help seal the place up, during a couple of creature attacks. This leaves some injured, and lot of upset people arguing over strategies. This continues as various characters step to the head of the class and attempt to take charge, to varying degrees of success.

As I sit here writing this, I realize that the story does not lend to any sort of lengthy description or analysis. However, that does not stop me from telling you how flat out enjoyable it is. John Gulager has fun with the conventions of the genre, people's fates switching from the standard cliche's, while still remaining within the boundaries that horror vets are familiar with.

I sat there in the darkened theater, a smile plastered across my face as people got slammed, eaten, ripped out of windows, and shot. I grinned while a dead creature was held out the window on a pool cue and while we bore witness to the speedy creature procreation.

Suddenly I feel the urge to wrap this up. If you like this type of movie, you know who you are, if you don't, well, you need to give it a shot, you never know what you may end up liking. The acting is pretty bad, dialog is silly, and much of the action is obscured by quick camera moves and cuts and low lighting, but they all add together into a fun schlockfest that I am glad to have seen on the big screen.

Before I do take my final bow and sign off, I have to mention that the presence of Henry Rollins is a great one. This guy is hilarious and is a great story teller, check out his spoken word performances for proof, and his personality just oozes onto the screen. In this case he is a stuck on himself motivational speaker, who only knows how to do that. This is evidenced by the constant make a speech tendency that he has, giving him some of the best lines in the movie.

Bottomline. This was an absolute blast and will definitely become a part of my collection. John Gulager has delivered a convention bending blast of old school horror. Practical effects, cheesy one liners, and character cliches all work towards the end product. In short, this is a lot of fun.

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