Those who haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Lee Haven Jones The Feast, run, don’t walk. The elegantly powerful and gruesomely brutal folk story is a delight for the senses, assuming you can stomach some of the juicier bits. This is not a film for the faint of heart or the weak-stomached. It is a modern Grimm fairy tale complete with gore and a strict moral structure. The Feast is an intelligent combination of folk horror, eco terror with bits of body horror, social commentary, and psychological intrigue. I got a chance to speak to its star Annes Elwy, the enigmatic Cadi, and the director Lee Haven Jones about what it all meant and any possible influences for the beautiful monster.
In The Feast, a wealthy, politically powerful family has traveled to their country home, a stark, modernistic behemoth set among the gorgeous unmarred hills of rural Wales to holiday while each member deals with their own personal demons. Each person has things in their past, some more recent than others that they are hiding from. Some are as relatable as leaving a rural upbringing behind in favor of the glitz and money of city life, and others reveal themselves to be far nastier. These are broken people who have convinced themselves and everyone around them that they have it all figured out. But then, a young woman Cadi arrives and almost immediately puts all of that to question.
Jones reveals The Feast could also be seen as a story about the history of Wales and England. It’s about the tensions created by interlopers who have used and taken the land and the supernatural forces who fight back. Filmed in the Welsh Borderlands, the area is gorgeous with a complicated past. As much about the flawed family who has literally mined the countryside of its treasured as the situations that have allowed that land rape to happen in the first place, The Feast is a multi-course meal of increasingly violent dishes. Here is everything you need to know.
What is the art piece about?
Early in the first act, there is an impressive painting introduced that Cadi immediately connects with. Almost like the piece is calling to her, Cadi is drawn to the work. Later Glenda explains the expensive image is an interpretation of the area her house is set on, its topography, and the adjoining neighbors. Glenda scoffs at the beauty of the picture, seeing only the money it cost her. This is the most important thing to know about Glenda. She rejects her rural upbringing and is almost embarrassed by her past. Instead, she chooses the trappings of political power and wealth. She once wears flowered dresses at home with the land but chooses now to adorn herself in slick and stylish couture wrapped meticulously in environmentally unfriendly plastic.
Her home currently stands on the land that was her family’s farm. It once was undisturbed but now is the site of many industrial enterprises, including the mineral mining her family has gotten rich from. Cadi is there in part to remind Glenda where she came from and the importance of her past. The painting was commissioned for the film and visualizes where Glenda has been and where she is going.
What is Cadi in The Feast?
Cadi, which means pure, is an amalgamation of several different folklore legends. She is Nature, wild and dangerous. Director Lee Haven Jones says,” she is an invention”. He further explains she was initially “drawn from Blodeuwedd”. The legend of a woman formed from flowers. She is the Goddess of emotions and life energies. Blodeuwedd was first created to marry and heal Llew, who needed her hand to assert his right to the throne. Although she harnesses the power of unbridled nature, she had very little agency of her own, and that was deeply frustrating to her.
Like Blodeuwedd, Cadi(Annes Elwy) begins as a seemingly vulnerable young woman but quickly becomes a huntress with an agenda of her own. He knows this film intimately and even knows precisely the moment Cadi reveals herself to be the predator instead of the prey. At twenty-six minutes in, she unleashes a blood-curdling laugh that is so chilling it flips everything we thought we knew about her.
When we first meet her, she is wet, dead-eyed, nearly mute, and bewildered. She arrives under the guise of helping Glenda(Nia Roberts) prepare for the critical dinner party she is having that night. Glenda, her husband and two adult children, their shady business partner Euros, and neighbors Lori and Mair will attend. In her first few hours helping Glenda prepare, she gives the appearance of being meek and fragile. She seems like the prey that the rabbits Gweird stumbles upon and pretends to be his hunts. That myth is dispelled with a few well-timed bursts of jarring laughter and uncomfortable piercing noise.
As star Annes Elwy puts it, Cadi is “Nature at her core”. The earth oozes from her, staining everything around her. This stark manipulative world she has found herself in is so opposite from the primal place she derives her power she needs to reconnect to handle the place she is in. Elwy goes on to express the joy in playing someone so “truly in the moment”. Despite all of the horrific things Cadi eventually does, Elwy says, “she doesn’t get satisfaction from punishing people.”
Elwy plays her with such unadulterated abandon it allows the more graphic scenes to hit harder. However, maggot licking wouldn’t seem to be the most enjoyable; for Cadi, it absolutely is hardwired into her DNA. Nevertheless, there is a real sense that, especially for Glenda, Cadi is trying to help her remember. Glenda eventually comes to terms with the message but sacrifices herself to the elements she had betrayed. The final act culminates in a fierce punctuation point that feels more like retribution than revenge.
For fans of grisly, unexpected folk horror, The Feast is a satisfying meal of karmic justice and grisly imagery. It is a slow burn that builds tension like layers of the fanciest torte. So sink your teeth into this classic today. The Feast is streaming right now everywhere.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.