The Feast (Gwledd) (18) |Close-Up Film Review

Dir. Lee Haven Jones, UK, 2021, 93 minutes, subtitled

Cast: Annes Elwy, Nia Roberts, Julian Lewis Jones, Sion Alun Davies, Steffan Cennydd

Review by Colin Dibben

A well-paced, Welsh-language folk horror that pitches the pagan and the modernist against each other to exemplary effect, and climaxes in some righteous and hallucinatory gore.

Cadi (Elwy), a freckly, young, very un-enthused house help, turns up at the minimalist mansion of a Welsh member of parliament, Gwyn (Jones) and his wife, Glenda (Roberts).

Cadi is there to help prepare and serve a small dinner party. She doesn’t seem very capable and drags dirt around wherever she goes, to no-one’s surprise.

Cadi has a strange attraction for the weirdo sons of the house. They are somewhat spellbound by her. Despite this connection, as the reason for the dinner party becomes clear, Cadi prepares a horrific pièce de resistance.

What is pretty unique here (apart from the Welsh language and subtitles) is the way that the tension builds largely by the development and intertwining of two contrasting moods: clean and modern versus woozy and pagan.

The clean, modern mood is embodied in the house itself and the way the camera moves through it. It is also present in the attitudes of the inhabitants, especially the fussy practicality of Glenda.

But the clean and the modern reaches an intensity which is also a threshold into something pathological, such as son Gweirydd (Davies) and his kinky take on health and exercise. Or Glenda herself once Cadi’s influence takes hold.

Cadi presents a distinct and separate note, one that melts into and curdles the modernist feel of the film a second time.

She’s detached from proceedings but it’s as if she’s controlling them from a separate, woozy realm that the viewer has no access to. Formally, the blurry, foregrounded nature shots in the film may suggest an element that is assignable to Cadi as a natural, pagan presence. But these kind of shots are almost cliché nowadays; what’s more interesting is the ‘materialism’ of the pagan element, which is only present through Cadi and her actions and the effect she has on others.

Given that most of the screen time is taken up with a conflict and merging of moods, The Feast is paced just right. The duration is spot on too.

There is some pretty on-the-nose dialogue as the film progresses but this intriguing tone poem of a horror film more than makes up for it with its unique take on what constitutes creepy atmosphere. Plus, there’s that horrific but enjoyable climactic gore.


The Feast is out at selected cinemas from 19 August 2022.