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When a diverse group of strangers find themselves trapped in an isolated tavern, they must band together in a battle for survival against a family of flesh-hungry creatures that lay siege. 'Feast' is the winning film from the hit series 'Project Greenlight,' created by Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Chris Moore.
For more about Feast and the Feast Blu-ray release, see Feast Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on October 11, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Balthazar Getty, Henry Rollins, Navi Rawat, Josh Zuckerman, Judah Friedlander, Jason Mewes
Director: John Gulager
» See full cast & crew
Feast Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, October 11, 2010
Fans of a certain B-movie ethos were giddy with excitement a week or so ago with the long awaited release of the theatrical version of the Tarantino-Rodriguez putative double feature Grindhouse. These same fans probably didn't notice, at least for the most part, the release a couple of weeks before that of a little film that was part of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon's Project Greenlight series, Feast. Feast indeed often plays like the long lost sibling to at least Rodriguez' half of the Grindhouse double bill, Planet Terror. Instead of flesh crazed zombies, we're instead "treated" to flesh crazed aliens, hungry little (and big) critters who descend upon a desert bar where a handful of people are holed up trying to figure out how in hell they're going to get out of Dodge (or, alternatively, to their Dodge parked several feet away outside) without becoming the evening meal. Feast is alternately hilarious and horrifying, in the best grindhouse tradition, never taking itself very seriously at all, while delivering at least a few thrills and chills along the way. If it's often decidedly juvenile in both approach and subject matter, that, too, is part and parcel of the grindhouse experience and shouldn't really come as much of a surprise to anyone who frequented second run movie houses back in the day.
Feast starts out promisingly with a fun conceit wherein each of the main characters is introduced via freeze frame, with superimposed titles giving us their nicknames and their life expectancy. We meet everyone from a crippled young man in a wheelchair going by the name Hot Wheels (Josh Zuckerman) to an unkempt and pretty unseemly delivery man called Beer Guy (Judah Friedlander) to a tattooed biker chick named Harley Mom (Diane Goldner). The Bartender, a role more than a bit reminiscent of Grindhouse's Planet Terror character J.T. Hague, is played by Clu Gulager, the only putative big name in the cast and the father of Feast's director John Gulager. This gimmick of introducing the characters plays off with a wonderfully adept punch line once Hero (Eric Dane) bursts through the front door and tells people they're about to be under siege by a motley group of hungry aliens. I won't spoil the joke, other than that it's a perfect send up of every film you've seen where a hero has burst through a front door and warned people of impending disaster.
This is a film that madly ricochets between completely gross moments, which nonetheless provide more than a few guffaws along the way, and some smaller character moments that attempt to invest these types with a little humanity and heart-tugging drama. Tuffy (Krista Allen), a single mom with a sweet little boy (Tyler Patrick Jones) is forced to submit to the sexual whims of the bar's owner, Boss Man (Duane Whitaker). Just when you think things couldn't get worse after the aliens are on the hunt, things take a tragic turn that actually comes as a rather unexpected plot machination. In fact, Feast is to be commended for having absolutely no respect for its characters (in a good way, or a least an innovative way), much like the television series Lost, which wasn't afraid to kill major roles as the storyline moved forward. Feast lurches like a wounded barfly from comedy to tragedy, sometimes in a heartbeat, and it gives this film a rather bracing edge that's unusual and often effectively iconoclastic.
There's also a very sly sense of humor from virtually the first frame of Feast which keeps the viewer on edge and deliberately off balance. Jason Mewes is on hand playing a hopefully slightly fictional version of himself, as a somewhat obnoxious pool shark, and let's just say his hustling days don't last very long in the film. Time and time again Feast serves up its supposedly major characters to the gaping maws of the aliens, with nary a backward glance. As the pickings grow slim when the film reaches its final act, the film bravely goes where even few grindhouse features have gone before, and lets some characters' questionable decisions lead to yet more sacrificial humans being led to the alien slaughter.
While some of the mayhem and humor is beyond juvenile (the survivors manage to sever the male alien's member by closing it in a door), there's such a gritty determination to this film that it's hard not to give it perhaps grudging props. Screenwriters Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton are obviously lovers of this genre, and they take no prisoners here, serving up a great "submarine film," to utilize a phrase parlayed in one of the extras, but without the typical film clichés attached, where you know the main characters are most likely going to make it out alive. It's in fact a little giddiness inducing to watch one character after another bite the dust in Feast, and it keeps the audience guessing as to what's coming next.
John Gulager has directed the film with a sort of no-nonsense, low tech approach that suits the film's tenor admirably. There's very little flash and overt style here, but everything is framed well and the cast delivers uniformly enjoyable performances. If there are some halting steps along the way as Dunstan and Melton attempt, perhaps foolishly, to inject some moralizing into the proceedings, luckily these moments are transitory and never ultimately deflate the human soufflé that makes up the main course of this meal. These may indeed be empty calories, but like most junk food, Feast is tasty if you're in the mood for this kind of snack.
Feast Blu-ray, Video Quality
Feast serves up a fairly satisfying Blu-ray with an AVC encoded image in 1080p and a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. This is a film which, in the best grindhouse tradition, fairly screams low budget, and so we have an often low contrast and overly soft image that may not have the ostensible "damage" of Planet Terror, but which still comes nowhere close to pristine hi-def imagery, no doubt intentionally. The film is often rather dark, and some detail does get lost in the murkiness. Colors can be alarmingly vivid, especially the goo and guts that populate Feast's many graphic segments. Close-ups reveal some very nice detail, and some of the makeup effects are extremely effective and well presented on this transfer. If you come to Feast with suitable expectations, this is a fine looking Blu-ray which properly reproduces the film's gritty, lo-fi look to a tee.
Feast Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Feast offers an often extremely effective lossless soundtrack via its Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix. While the dialogue portions of the film sport excellent fidelity and often very nice and apparent channel separation, it's in the action and attack sequences that the film really comes alive. When the "tyke" alien bursts into the bar suddenly the surrounds are filled with squiggly, slimy sounds and a host of great effects as the humans freak out and begin shooting willy-nilly to get rid of the damned thing. As is typical with films of this ilk, there's excellent use of LFE to amp up the anxiety level, however subliminally, of the audience. Fidelity throughout Feast is top notch, with dialogue crisp and clean, though often very busy, as in several segments actors talk over each other in their excitement. There's some really good use of different ambient spaces here, too. Notice the nice separation and reverb difference when Bozo (Balthazar Getty) is alone in a room with one of the aliens and several others are on the other side of the door. It's the attention to detail like that which makes this such an enjoyable sonic romp.
Feast Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Several good to excellent supplements make a fitting dessert for Feast's main course:
Feast Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If you're a fan of Grindhouse, I can wholeheartedly recommend Feast as a fun and funny companion piece. Even if you've never seen the Tarantino-Rodriguez double feature, you're sure to have seen the many films Feast parodies, sometimes brilliantly so. This is lo-fi filmmaking at its most basic level, with several laugh out loud moments interspersed with a lot of blood and guts. What more could you ask for? Recommended.
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