What self-respecting, TV-owning, cable-subscribing horror fan didn't tune in to Bravo's Project Greenlight reality show every week to watch the crash-and-burn? First-time director and contest winner John Gulager - under the tutelage of producers Chris Moore, Wes Craven, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and Harvey Weinstein – was followed everywhere he went with cameras, and they caught every little slip-up and melt-down … the pressure was obviously immense, and it was perfect for reality television.
But what about 'perfect' for making a movie? The previous two Project Greenlight films, both schmaltzy coming-of-age dramas, looked horrible in the series and were in fact horrible upon release. Feast, judging from the way it was presented while filming, looked as though it would follow the same path to the bargain bin at Best Buy. When the release was delayed time and time again, partially due to studio politics, it didn't look good. It looked even worse when the movie's big screen run was limited to midnight shows on just a few screens. I'm happy to report that is not the case here.
The premise of the film is about as simple as it gets: A ragtag group of people holed up in an isolated tavern in the middle of the desert find themselves trapped and pitted against a family of evil aliens who crave human flesh. It's all about the people (the aliens do not have personalities, or any character traits other than malevolence) in Feast – in the beginning, we are introduced to each one assembly-line style, complete with Terminator-style textural descriptions.
We meet Boss Man (Duane Whitaker), Harley Mom (Diane Goldner), Bozo (Balthazar Getty), Hot Wheels (Josh Zuckerman), Beer Delivery Guy (Judah Freelander), Honey Pie (Jenny Wade), Coach (Henry Rollins), Vet (Anthony Criss), Edgy Cat (Jason Mewes), Heroine (Navi Rawat), Hero (Eric Dane), Tuffy (Krista Allen), Cody (Tyler Patrick Jones), Grandma (Eileen Ryan), and, finally, the pithy Bartender (Clu Gulager). Each of these people embodies a certain horror movie stereotype, but much to the viewers' delight, things change… usually for the more gruesome. The acting and casting is great; I would change a thing in that regard (if you recall from watching Project Greenlight, there was lots of argument and agonizing over the casting).
The aliens are stereotypes too in that they, like any good horror film villain, never seem to die. Even certain body-parts live on after being severed! Creature-maker Gary Tunnicliffe does a great job, although the look of the aliens is somewhere between Alien and a jackalope. Wisely, the edits are fast and furious, and you never really see the critters for long.
However, that Speedy Gonzales style of editing also harms the film in some ways; I found myself having to run the picture back more than once to understand what exactly had just taken place. The cinematography is punchy, and even though the sets are extremely limited, they are dressed to maximum potential.
In case you are wondering how Feast compares to the other aliens-themed horror/comedy that came out this year, James Gunn's Slither, Feast plays it closer to the vest in terms of comedy. While it is no doubt funny and meant to be, it's more tongue-in-cheek and is more brutal in terms of violence.
The Unrated DVD serves up more blood, guts, nudity and sex, plus a whole slew of additional release material.
Commentary — director John Gulager, co-writers Marcus Dunstan & Patrick Melton, co-producers Michael Leahy and Joel Soisson, special effects technician Gary Tunnicliffe and editor Kirk M. Morri. This is a hilarious, good-natured, spirited commentary that's actually quite candid and informative. However, aside from the two or three men with distinctive voices, it's very difficult to tell who is speaking.
The Blood And Guts Of Gary Tunnicliffe – self explanatory title, of course, but in addition to a look behind the scenes at the aliens and interviews with the monster-maestro, we also get some insights from the cast about working with these wet, gooey, sticky effects day-in and day-out.
Horror Under the Spotlight: Making Feast - explains what it was like to make the movie while a television show was following the filmmakers everywhere. This a great featurette that effectively shows the other side of things, and helps us to understand what it was like to be under such scrutiny and secrecy.