Saturday, September 23, 2006


Directed by John Gulager
Written by Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton

Like all "Project Greenlight" winners, the choices made by Miramax/Dimension decision-makers, which includes "Greenlight" founders Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, were usually wrong from the get-go. In the first year, it was Pete Jones's Stolen Summer, which somehow managed to beat out some cooler-sounding scripts (like Speakeasy, later actually made) probably for sheer filmmaking feasibility--winners get $1 million to make their movie--which is another reason why salary caps suck, even in films. The next year, they chose a writer and a director separately, going with the script The Battle of Shaker Heights by Erica Beeney, considered the best of the crop but then choosing two goofball, argumentative directors Efram Potelle and Kyle Rankin to sloppily guide the film into obscurity.

By all means, they went the two-wrongs-make-a-right scenario with the choices for Feast. Since their genre-brand distributor Dimension, chosen for the third season of "Greenlight" to be the production house, wasn't the Oscar-bait house that their other label, Miramax, was, they chose the absolute dumbest script of them all--a ripoff of From Dusk Till Dawn which was one of the charter members of the Dimension label. Meanwhile, a smart script called Does Anybody Here Remember When Hanz Gubenstein Invented Time Travel got the shaft, probably for the same fiscal reasons. They then chose Gulager to direct, who had a stylish entry into the contest but miserably failed his interview when he was chosen as one the final three hopeful directors. He seemed to be the right director for another movie; certainly not a horror movie.

But, after watching "Greenlight" I got the sense that Gulager was a professional and despite all the weird goings-on in a show that probably cuts out anything not controversial, I thought, like many did, that maybe...just maybe, this would be the first "Greenlight" picture to be fun and worth watching--but then, delays came. The show ended in early 2005, and it looked like Feast would be coming out soon after, but it took more than a year for it to finally come out, dumped into minimal amount of theatres, and only given midnight shows on the weekend. Talk about unceremonious.

So I watched Feast under the best circumstances possible--in New York, at midnight, with a packed house.

The plot--it's an out-of-the-way bar in the desert, and creepy monsters start attacking. Here in the festivities are Balthazar Getty (last season of "Alias," now on "Brothers and Sisters"), Navi Rawat ("Numbers"), Krista Allen, Henry Rollins, Judah Friedlander (who was in attendance), Jenny Wade, Pulp Fiction alum Duane Whitaker (Zed's partner Maynard), Jason Mewes, Sean Penn's mom Eileen Ryan, Gulager's dad Clu, Gulager's girlfriend Diane Goldner, and more are all potential title characters. They have to find some way out, or kill the monsters, or both, if they are going to survive the night.

It's a simple, straightforward horror comedy that is just like, but isn't as good as, From Dusk Till Dawn, and like I said in my earlier review of Jackass 2, is best when seen with a crowd. As is, it's your typical late-night cable movie--you can see why the Weinsteins didn't have much faith in it, although I wonder how a movie like this doesn't get a big release, while movies that are a hundred thousand times less entertaining like their release Cursed went wide. The reason I think is because Feast doesn't seem to have the overall polish of even a turd like Cursed. But that's their fault--the miserly way they fund these "Greenlight" movies are half the problem. So Feast goes with lots of close-ups (hardly any establishing shots) and confusing editing, and the monster is kept hidden with the intention of being like Jaws (mostly because the creature looked stupid in early cuts).

But there is an enjoyable film here--there's some interesting lines and performances--Getty, Ryan, Rollins, and Friedlander (as the comic relief, although the others get their share of that duty as well) all get substantial laughs--Navi Rawat and Krista Allen seem to be the only ones not in on the joke taking everything too seriously, although this could be more of a tribute to the script than their own failings (I will say, though, given that--Rawat looks terribly uncomfortable in this). A woman next to me jumped a couple of times at the scary parts--your usual "boo" moments.

At the end, a guy yelled out, "Judah you rock!" Friedlander was there, watching the movie himself for the first time, a cool dude who talked to anyone who approached. There was applause; it was clearly enjoyed for what it is, and it was all you could ask for given the circumstances. Hopefully, someone will give John Gulager a higher-paying, higher budget job in the future.


At 9/23/2006 09:47:00 AM, Blogger Jonathan said...

I really wish they would have brought this to Nashville, and from what I understand it might be on the next couple of weekends, so maybe they'll add that to the list.While I will definately catch it on DVD in a few weeks (Oct.17) I was really hoping to get to see this with a packed audience.

At 9/23/2006 11:22:00 AM, Blogger Chris said...

It looks like it's in Franklin--the Thoroughbred. I had to dig a little bit to find that out, but it apparently is playing close.


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