There’s a bunch of people stuck in a bar in the middle of nowhere. Monsters want to eat them. What will they do? That about sums up Feast, a film that’s part comedy, part horror, and all around over the top. This is the winning project from season three of Project Greenlight, a contest and documentary series founded by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck back in 2000. What does that mean? Feast is a low-budget film helmed by a rookie director, based on an amateur script.
Rookie and amateur are often words associated with low quality, but this gore-fest is actually pretty good. This is obviously a film made by big fans of horror movies, as it embraces many of the conventions and clichés of the genre, sometimes twisting them around or turning them upside down. The result is a decent amount of uncertainty for the audience, which helps suck us into the tense and scary moments.
Of course, it’s tough to get away from the negative effects of a tiny budget when you’re making a creature feature. There’s only one digital effect shot in this movie, and it has nothing to do with the creatures or the gore. Feast, uses pure, old school physical effects, and while they’re well done, they work because the camera work and editing act as crutches. Every time there’s creature action, the shots are tight, cameras are shaky, and the cuts are fast. It feels pretty visceral, but it can also be very disorienting, especially in the final showdown.
The performances are all pretty solid, with this ensemble cast doing a fine job selling the outlandish plot and the scream-worthy horror of their situation. A bar is an easy location, because it can make sense for just anyone to be there. Feast’s characters are pretty eclectic, ranging from mysterious heroes to a crotchety bartender to a poor man’s motivational speaker. Overall, the group works well.
If you like creatures, gore and survival horror, Feast will be a welcome viewing experience. So how’s the DVD?
Feast is presented on a single disc in 2.40:1 widescreen format. It looks just ok, with faded blacks and an overall washed out appearance. With so many dark scenes, this hurts the presentation, but the transfer is consistent, so the result it just a grungy feel for the film.
The menus are animated and include sound. It’s not especially important, but the main menu may be the most jarring I’ve experienced, and that sets the tone nicely for the film.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is solid. Dialogue is always clear, and there are plenty of directional effects at work, representing creaky floors, panicked shouts and various other bumps in the night. The film is accompanied by a mix of score and a mostly metal soundtrack, playing at levels that blend well with the overall mix.
Audio is English only, with English and Spanish subtitles available.
The bonus material is hit and miss. It includes an audio commentary, deleted scenes, two featurettes, outtakes, and a promo teaser for the Feast soundtrack.
The audio commentary is by director John Gulager, producers Mike Leahy and Joel Soisson, writers Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, and creature effects designer Gary Tunnicliffe. Way too many cooks in the kitchen on this one, and the result is pretty poor. It’s really difficult to keep track of who’s speaking, and often two or three guys are speaking over each other, or laughing heartily about inside jokes we don’t get. Very near the end, after Gulager has explained why one of the final scenes is shot a certain way, one of the producers says, “Ha! You waited this whole commentary for some good information!” Unfortunately, he was right.
Blood on the Cutting Room Floor brings us four deleted scenes and an alternate ending. You can watch them individually, or choose to ‘play all’. Either way, you’ll quickly learn why the scenes were dropped. It’s not that they’re especially bad, just that they add nothing to the film aside from their length. It’s nice to see an alternate ending, but this one is definitely weaker than the final version. It’s confusing, and it lessens the achievements of the few surviving characters.
Horror Under the Spotlight is a decent making-of featurette. It’s a 10-minute clip fest with a decent collection of interview clips with the cast and crew. It’s funny to see the actors being interviewed in various stages of horror makeup, half-covered in fake blood. The most interesting aspect of the film explored here is John Gulager’s perspective on being a first-time director, and the impact Project Greenlight has had on his career.
The second featurette is The Blood and Guts of Gary Tunnicliffe. This one runs about nine minutes, and it offers a quick look at Tunnicliffe’s approach to low budget effects. It also includes a bit about Tunnicliffe’s background story. It’s too short to be really interesting, but it does provide at least one tidbit of trivia – the trick to fake blood is to add caramel food colouring; apparently, brown blood is way more real than the bright red stuff.
We also get three minutes of Outtakes. They’re generally routine, except for a great blue streak sworn by actor Clu Gulager (the Bartender, and the director’s father).
Finally, the disc includes a promo for the Feast soundtrack. It’s a low budget 30-second commercial.
Feast is a brutal, gory survival horror film. If you like that sort of thing, then you’ll probably be happy with this one. The DVD is decent, with a solid audio mix and a quantity-over-quality set of extras.
Special Features List
- Audio commentary by the director, producers, writers and the visual effects designer
- Blood on the Cutting Room Floor, deleted scenes and alternate ending
- Horror Under the Spotlight featurette
- Blood and Guts of Gary Tunnicliffe featurette
- CD soundtrack promo