by Corey Hall
When Matt Damon and Ben Affleck started up Project Greenlight in 2000, they hoped to both open doors to up-and-coming filmmakers and create some entertaining "reality" TV. Young wannabe moviemakers would apply to be on the show, which traced the process of their filmmaking experience, from concept to final product. Feast, the third and final Greenlight movie, isn't all that bad, at least by swiftly plummeting monster movie standards.
The rudimentary plot uses a scenario the great drive-in movie critic Joe Bob Briggs used to call "Spam in a cabin," where a motley collection of people wind up in a remote location, and are picked off one by one by vicious creatures. It's the basic premise used to great effect in such cult classics as Evil Dead and From Dusk Till Dawn, flicks known as much for their cheeky sense of humor as their copious amounts of gore. Feast is quick to copy this formula, embracing its status as a cheesy splatter flick.
Here, the remote location is a seedy desert saloon; the disposable patrons and workers are introduced with snarky little title screens that list each one's name, occupation and life expectancy. The latter estimates are predictably wrong once the beasties bust through the doors and start redecorating the walls with blood and slime. Exactly what those creatures are or where they come from is never addressed in the script penned by contest winners Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, who seem far too busy patting themselves on the back for being cleverly subversive. The stock characters don't even get real names, just labels like "bartender" and "beer guy" target dummies just waiting out the clock until they become human Hamburger Helper. Hipster icons like Jason Mewes and Henry Rollins add low-wattage star power to a cast of mostly unknowns, which is anchored by its default leads, former it-boy Balthazar Getty and Krista Allen. Both have a knack for crisply barking out lines even while being covered with gore and glop.
Director Jon Gulagher clearly has a unique visual flair, though his addiction to odd camera angles and rapid-fire cuts becomes a problem during the blurry attack sequences. The old-school of horror wisdom suggests that it's scarier when you don't actually see the monster, but here the murkiness is probably a result of both inexperience and a low budget. But the rough edges add a bit of manic charm to Feast that glossier, more expensive pictures can't match. It should be a kick for splatter-flick fans and those who followed the movie's shaky production on the TV series, which proved that sometimes just getting the damn movie made is the really scary part.
Showing at the Main Art Theatre (118 N. Main St., Royal Oak; 248-263-2111).
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.