SXSW FILM FESTIVAL 2021 REVIEW! The Feast (or Gwledd in its native Welsh), written by Roger Williams and directed by Lee Haven Jones, is one of those wonderful movies where a group of evil rich people gets their just desserts. However, it takes a while for us to figure out that’s what’s happening. The slow-burning modern-day folk-horror film has layers upon layers of information you have to visually sift through until you realize why this story is being told. If it were more straightforward about its message or as to exactly why we’re observing this particular family, it’d be over in ten minutes and be boring as hell. Instead, all the secrets are revealed in due time, and it’s incredibly satisfying.
Glenda (Nia Roberts) is preparing for a dinner party, the titular feast. Her husband, Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones), has killed two rabbits for the meal. The family lives on a substantial plot of land in the Welsh countryside. It’s truly beautiful, and we get to admire its beauty quite a bit. Gwyn is the Welsh representative of Parliament. In addition, the family has allowed a company, headed by one of the dinner guests, Euros (Rhodri Meilir), to drill for various minerals on their land. This has given them more money than they know what to do with, but of course, a lot of the time, once people start making money, there’s no such thing as enough.
The family has two adult sons that are currently living with them as well. Guto (Steffan Cennydd) is a recovering addict who’s not allowed to leave Wales for London until he’s shown that he can be responsible. Then there’s Gweirydd (Sion Alun Davies), who is training for a triathlon, but he’s not as wholesome as he appears.
“…a group of evil rich people gets their just desserts.”
Glenda hires a waitress from the local pub to assist with the serving and preparation of the banquet. Glenda usually hires another woman from the same establishment, but she just so happened to be ill. Instead, she winds up with Cadi (Annes Elwy), who is, in a word, strange. She seems to be a little slow, doesn’t talk much, and it takes her a long time to complete the smallest of tasks. There’s definitely something a little off about her, and as time goes by, we come to see that’s the understatement of the century.
This The Celebration meets The Witch formula adds up to some very interesting scenes that are both horrifying in an overt way and on a psychological level. Its main tenant is to not mess with nature because, as we have seen in many different films, mother nature does fight back. The second thing it shows is how money really can be the root of all evil and definitely can’t fix every problem. The script by Williams is brilliant with its slow revelations. The performances, particularly by Elwy, Davies, Cennydd, and Roberts, are subdued until they are not, and it’s a joy to see. Lee Haven Jones certainly worked well with the actors.
It is a beautiful film made even more so by production designer, Gwyn Eiddior, and cinematographer, Bjørn Ståle Bratberg. If you love a good, slow burn with betrayal and elements of folk horror, The Feast is definitely up your alley, and I hope you get to see it very soon. It’s truly excellent.
The Feast screened at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival.
"…horrifying in an overt way and on a psychological level."