Feast, When an Indie Gets Tested

Well, this weekend, the final film in the three-year televised saga that was Project Greenlight comes to a close as Feast, the final movie to come out of Greenlight, finally sees a limited run in theatres. Released on 100 screens split between 50 markets, this nearly forgotten gem finally will get the release it most definitely deserves. But what does the final film look like?

I had the pleasure of catching this at a festival last year in what was supposed to be an almost completely finished state. And it was a hell of a lot of fun. A tongue in cheek romp of blood and destruction that occasionally flashes stats of the characters, complete with their script name (Beer Guy, Hero, Bozo, Bartender) and survivability chances. And unlike most horror films, Feast dispenses with the usual Raka-Raka and just jumps right into the film. I mean, who really cares where the monsters come from? All you need to know is that it’s set in a bar, monsters attack and the patrons die. Right?

Well, unlike most independent films, Feast (which was taken by the Weinsteins from Miramax over to their new Weinstein Company) went through rigorous test screening. Indies don’t get test screened. It just doesn’t happen. They’re either good or they’re not. Distributors tend to buy them as is – but Project Greenlight was almost like the real thing. So it got tested. And in this test screening process, one question came up time and again. Where do the monsters come from? So rumor has it (and the new trailer seems to allude to the fact) that they did some reshoots to answer the question that really didn’t need to be answered.

A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Omen, The Ring. These are movies about monsters. Their origins are integral to the story as it’s what drives the horror. They’re forging a mythos. But movies like George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead or John Carpenter’s The Thing? The origin of the monsters isn’t important. Why? Because the film isn’t about the monsters. It’s about how people deal with not only the end of their lives, but each other at the end of the world.

And that’s what Feast is about. It’s not about the monsters. It’s about how a bunch of drunks deal with being locked in a bar when crazed bat monsters attack, all the while riffing on the conventions of monster movies, from the classic to the modern. It doesn’t matter whether these bat creatures were grown in a lab or let out of a long sealed cave. They’re monsters, they eat people and they’re attacking our characters. That’s all we need to know. We’re supposed to wonder where they came from. That’s the element of horror to these stories – the terror from unknown parts. They come from wherever scares you most.

But test audiences don’t think about that kind of thing. They write down what they’re thinking, and clearly, they were thinking about where the monsters came from. And the film makers just might have added that in.

And frankly, it’s got me a little worried. I loved the original version of this, and I hope that’s what I see this weekend. I hope that's the version you get to see as well.

C. Robert Cargill

Check out a more "animated" Cargill at www.reeldealreviews.com