Directed by John Gulager. Screenplay, Marcus Dunstan, Patrick Melton. Camera (color), Thomas L. Callaway; editor, Kirk Morri; music, Steve Edwards; production designer, Clark Hunter; set decorator, Andi Brittain; costume designer, Julia Bartholomew; sound (Dolby Digital), Matthew Wood; makeup FX, Gary J. Tunnicliffe; visual FX supervisor, Kevin O'Neill; assistant director, Stephen Maloney; casting, Michelle Morris Gertz. Reviewed at Regent Theater, Toronto, Sept. 11, 2006. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 85 MIN.
With: Balthazar Getty, Henry Rollins, Navi Rawat, Judah Friedlander, Josh Zuckerman, Jason Mewes, Jenny Wade, Krista Allen, Clu Gulager, Duane Whitaker, Eileen Ryan, Diane Goldner, Tyler Patrick Jones, Anthony "Treach" Criss, Eric Dane.
Its production already the subject of cable reality skein "Project Greenlight's" third season, monster mash "Feast" is getting a further boost prior to its Oct. 17 DVD release via nationwide latenight hardtop screenings Sept. 22-23. Combo should make this Halloween season a lucrative one for a movie that isn't distinctive enough in concept or execution to require full theatrical rollout, but will pass the time painlessly enough for stay-at-home horror enthusiasts.
Pic immediately introduces characters via freeze-frame--mostly strangers, all hanging out at a crummy desert saloon--and a few onscreen vital statistics (including estimated life expectancy). They're a surly lot stewing slowly in a sleazy setting.
Collective energy level jumps a few notches when designated Hero (Eric Dane) kicks open the door, bloodied, wielding a shotgun and a decapitated creature's head. "These things are comin', they're hungry and we're next. ... Unless you people want to die, you'll do what I say and you'll do it fast," he gasps, to general eye-rolling.
Moments later, one "thing" has laid waste to Hero, whose life expectancy did not live up to its billing (setting the general snarky, genre-convention-ribbing tone). His wife, Heroine (Navi Rawat), rolls through the door next and helps batten down the hatches.
Another attack by the hairy, speedy and carnivorous thingies leaves several cast members dead or wounded, and one creature temporarily trapped in an ice chest.
Those left to argue over survival tactics include a chesty blonde waitress (Jenny Wade); a slightly less-so brunette (Krista Allen); an elderly female boozebag (Eileen Ryan); the crusty bartender (Clu Gulager, helmer's father); the oily bar owner (Duane Whitaker); a yuppie motivational trainer (Henry Rollins); a swaggering young pool hustler (Balthazar Getty); and his wheelchair-bound brother (Josh Zuckerman). Then there's the chubby beer delivery guy (Judah Friedlander), who's been heavily slimed by one of the aliens and fast develops some truly outrageous hygiene problems.
Basically throwing together familiar horror ideas without focusing on any in particular, "Feast" hopes its wild tone will compensate for the lack of distinctive characters or ideas. Pic's main models are the first two "Evil Dead" films, and perhaps "From Dusk Till Dawn." But "Feast" lacks the confidently gonzo camera choreography of all three.
Helmer John Gulager does keep things moving, albeit too often in a blur--the camera lunging too close to the action, leaving us frequently confused as to who is being attacked by what and how. Nor do we ever get a firm grasp on the looks and capabilities (don't even ask about the origins) of those creatures, beyond basic factoids that they are several, nasty, and they come in different sizes.
Pic boasts a couple amusingly perverse reversals of fortune, and one good if fleeting set piece involving human bait and an elusive extension cord. Otherwise, "Feast" is forgettable fun for the undiscriminating.
Playing variably tongue-in-cheek characters we're not expected to care about, the thesps go through their paces with as much brio as the hectic situations and less-than-sparking dialogue allow. Design contribs are OK, though the pic doesn't really pause long enough to develop atmosphere.
Soundtracked rock tunes by no-name artists are loud, mediocre, and plentiful.