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SXSW 2021: The Feast, Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break, Witch Hunt | Festivals & Awards


Wealthy Glenda (Nia Roberts) and her husband Gwyn (Julian Lewis Jones), a politician, live on Glenda’s family land in Wales. The place was once a farm, but the family tore it down to build a sleek modern home. They now loan out the rest of the property to energy companies to mine its resources. The couple has two sons; drug addict Guto (Steffan Cennydd) has been forced back home to get his head straight, while triathlete Gweirydd (Sion Alun Davies) exudes Patrick Batemanesque creepiness. On the night of a dinner party, Glenda hires local waitress Cadi (Annes Elwy) to help serve. The young woman is quietly unsettling, and seems to have it out for the family, increasingly so as the night wears on.

“The Feast” takes its time setting up the pegs before knocking them down in gloriously icky fashion. We’re left to speculate on what Cadi’s intentions are, and how she’s going to execute them, until the final act. That leaves two thirds of the running time to develop a sense of eerie dread and present subtle considerations of the original sin the family will pay for later. Glenda, Gwyn and their offspring exploit the land, whether they’re hunting on it, mining it, or chopping it down. The film also slyly critiques Glenda’s rejection of her family’s heritage, the value of which the Welsh-only dialogue makes abundantly clear. Not everyone may have the patience for “The Feast,” but those who do will be rewarded with intelligence and grand guignol in equal measure.

“Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break,” another UK-based cult indie, is the second feature from director Nick Gillespie, a contemporary of Ben Wheatley (he also lensed Wheatley’s latest film “In the Earth”). The film shares a stylistic kinship with Wheatley’s early work, as well as a stable of contributors. “Paul Dood,” which includes cast members with “Sightseers,” “Prevenge,” “In Fabric” and Wheatley’s TV series “Ideal” shows the relationship between UK’s underground comedy and genre scenes at work, although here its material and delivery clash awkwardly.

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