‘We’ll keep a welcome in the hillside, we’ll keep a welcome in the vales,’ runs the traditional Welsh song. In this cleverly constructed Welsh-language folk-horror, centred around a dinner party in a remote part of the country, there’s no welcome anywhere for frackers and the locals who profit from them – no matter how much Welsh they speak.
After an opening scene that sees a hard-hatted construction worker mysteriously killed while fracking, we meet social climber Glenda (Nia Roberts) and her husband, Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones), a local MP, who are preparing a feast at their modernised farmhouse.
Their plan is to introduce neighbour Mair (Lisa Palfrey), a dairy farmer, to slick mineral prospector Euros (Rhodri Meilir), who has made them a small fortune and could do the same for Mair. Given that Euros is an oily ’80s-style yuppie with a name that positively reeks of globalisation, Mair seems unlikely to take the bait.
A further challenge to the scheme comes via timorous hired help, Cadi (Annes Elwy), who seems to have history with Gwyn, and the couple’s sons, one of whom yearns for the bright lights and dark vices of London, the other has the kind of psychological issues that would have a therapist suggesting double sessions.
It’s a sometimes potent cocktail that’s let down by some predictable plotting
Gwyn scoffs at Mair’s mention of folk tales about a guardian spirit who protects the local farmland from those who would abuse it. As the courses are served, however, and Cadi’s true nature (signposted from the start) emerges, a smorgasbord of subtexts are thrown together in a blender and served up in a sometimes potent cocktail, let down by some predictable plotting and a messy ending.
Capably directed by debut filmmaker Lee Haven Jones, The Feast won’t challenge Midsommar for the modern folk-horror crown. Like a Welshophone episode of Inside No.9 stretched to feature length, it’s more of a sinister little snack than a full-blown feast.
In UK cinemas Fri Aug 19.