Feast Review

There are no characters in Feast, just stereotypes. There’s Coach, the Hero, the Heroine, Beer Guy, the Bartender, and more. It’s the classic set-up, a small town bar in the middle of nowhere, stocked with those familiar character archetypes, all assaulted by a band of eating, breeding, violent creatures.

Feast is self-aware (it’s most important quality), title cards flashing on-screen to illuminate the characters with their survival chances, none of those actually right. Once the Hero (Eric Dane) is wiped out from the start, anyone is fair game, from the kid to the old lady. There’s no explanation for this madness, just tons of blood, acid, and maggots covering people as the assault continues.

Born from the Showtime series Project Greenlight, this is a low-budget shocker, lacking in lights so the monster designs by Gary J. Tunnicliffe are barely visible. From what can be seen, they’re devilish beasties, with mouths so overloaded with teeth it is hard to imagine how they actually eat anything. Why studios and filmmakers are so terrified of suit work these days is a mystery, the art lost to story-driven meager lighting, and robbing audiences of what they came to see (low budget or not).

Still, Feast is fun, a mash-up of parody, homage, and straight horror that blends better than you would think. The pacing is great, acknowledging that no one actually cares for these stereotypical characters, and letting the monsters run amok. The attacks are frequent, and even if they’re off-screen, they always rattle a wall or a window to keep their presence felt. Sure it’s cheap, but it’s careful and constructed by people who actually care, the results of which show up on screen. That’s what counts.

Movie ★★★★☆ 

As a dark, dimly lit affair, black levels are crucial for a hi-def presentation, and this disc simply does not perform up to par. Sporadic shots produce a fair level of depth, those with focused lighting such as 51:38 where the make-up on Beer Guy (Judah Friedlander) is in focus. With one side of his face lit for all of the gooey detail, the other side is obscured with proper black levels.

With the lack of genuine, bright lighting throughout the entirety of the film, facial detail is almost non-existent. This was shot digitally, and it looks the part. While video noise is generally minor with rare exceptions, facial detail certainly suffers. Some close-ups resolve a modicum of texture, while the majority turn out flaccid. It’s not that this is a surprise, knowing the film is bathed in shadows. It’s just that this AVC encode doesn’t seem to be able to produce much beyond a slight increase in sharpness, better compression, and richer color over the DVD. It’s all quite basic.

Feast is given a warm palette, the red hue that dominates the film giving flesh tones that slight push into an orange-ish territory. The only other dominate color is a shade of purple, some lighting over the glasses behind the bar in view in a few shots (36:19). A flashback at 34:10 is simply awful, deliberately given some of the worst video noise you’ll ever see. There’s nothing wrong with the encode here.

The wickedly fast editing of the film doesn’t allow much time to really observe or appreciate much of any highlights. That said, with the sped-up movements of the creatures, especially the baby that ransacks the bar at the start, the encode holds without breaking down into artifacting. That’s an impressive feat by itself.

Video ★★★☆☆ 

There’s only a smidgen of low-end work in Feast, reserved for when the monsters get antsy and bang on the walls. Shotgun blasts don’t have the impact expected, firing off with a crisp, natural high-end, while barely being captured in the subwoofer. It’s as if a part of the audio has gone missing. An explosion not long after the hour marker is even less impressive, the bass anemic compared to the size of the fireball.

All of the pounding does ignite the surrounds in this TrueHD mix, the walls rattling in specific channels to give the creatures a constant presence. The little baby critter is an early highlight for surround fans, scurrying about the soundfield 15-minutes in with grand effectiveness. It’s crucial in setting up some scares, and keeping a sense of fear throughout the scene, the characters trying to track the little bugger themselves, easily done yourself merely with the audio cues.

Dialogue is mixed well, the most prominent aspect of the effort, as it should be. Heavy action doesn’t dilute any spoken lines, and the music is inserted well too. The final assault contains every possible element, the music, shotguns, screaming, creature roars, and other effects, all blended well with exceptional clarity.

Audio ★★★★☆ 

Extras carry over from the DVD, beginning with a commentary from director director John Gulager, producers Michael Leahy & Joel Soisson, co-writers Marcus Dunstan & Patrick Melton, with the final contributor being creature designer Gary J. Tunnicliffe. Some outtakes and a series of five deleted scenes (with alternate ending) follow. A making-of runs 11-minutes, with a final featurette on the creatures and gore.

Extras ★★★☆☆