Dir. John Gulager. US. 2005. 80mins.

The third instalment from the Project Greenlight program, John Gulager's Feastis a stripped down, grungy exercise in blood and gore that agreeably satisfiesthe expectations of the horror movie without transcending or ever slylysubverting the material.

The fantastic premise ofreality show Project Greenlight(originally shown on US cable network HBO and now shifted to Bravo) hasbeen to watch young, naive film-makers as they have been pitched against Harveyand Bob Weinstein, and their steely lieutenant, producer Chris Moore.

It has produced someriveting television, though commercial results have proved less than dramatic forthe first two offerings from previous series, Stolen Summer and The Battle Of Shaker Heights.

Screened at the ChicagoInternational Film Festival as a work in progress, Feast suggests far greaterpotential, moreso given Project Greenlight'sawareness and following and the involvement of Wes Craven.

As the son of craggycharacter actor Clu Gulager(featured in a prominent role as a bartender), John Gulagerhas a shrewd grasp of popular taste, and he delivers the requisite mayhem andbody count while also showing visual promise as a young horror stylist.

The story is as direct andelemental as the desolate landscape of the movie's setting, an improbablysituated bar where a group of ritualistically defined, disparate patrons areattacked by a particularly vicious strain of scaly, shape changing monsters.

The script is derivative ofpretty much every significant horror and science fiction movie of recentmemory, as the film-makers recycle and recombine bits from Sam Raimi's Evil Deadmovies, George Romero's Dead cycle,Kathryn Bigelow's Near Dark, andQuentin Tarantino's script of Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Till Dawn. The monsters, never fully viewed, areparticularly effective and eerie and appear the perverse progeny of the Alien and Predator series

The characters have noparticularly depth or interest, but they are imaginatively introduced with stylisedgraphics that quickly ferret out name, occupation and life expectancy.Occasionally the narrative severs expectations: the character called Hero isone of the first victims, while a young boy is unsentimentally offered up asanother early victim.

Acknowledging its debt toHoward Hawks' Rio Bravo, the mostinteresting aspect is the Hawksian portrait of women.Bound by their shared burden of young mothers wanting to either protect orreclaim their children, Tuffy (Allen) and Heroine (Rawat) are the toughest, most resourceful, natural leaderswho devise a plan to defeat their tormentors.

The movie is more effectivein the staging of action than character detail or narrative coherence and islean and atmospherically constructed

But the film-makersover-rely on the overplayed, hysterical effect of Beer Guy (Friedlander),playing the variation of Bill Paxton's jittery soldier from Aliens, for a comic counterpoint that isseverely distracting and unfunny. The ending is also abrupt and somewhatunsatisfactorily.

The lack of budget alsoshows in places, and the over-fussy editing and dark photography of the digitalprojection shown in Chicago makes it very difficult occasionally to decipherthe image.

Production companies
Five Course Films
Maloof Motion Pictures
Five Course Films
Miramax Films

US distribution

Executive producers
Wes Craven
Matt Damon
Ben Affleck
Chris Moore
Colleen Maloof
Gavin Maloof
George Maloof
Joe Maloof
Phil Maloof
Adrienne Maloof-Nassif
Chris Moore
Nick Phillips

Michael Leahy
Joel Soisson

Marcus Dunstan
Patrick Melton

Thomas L Callaway

Kirk M Morri
Production design
Clark Hunter

Main cast
Krista Allen
Navi Rawat
Henry Rollins
Balthazar Getty
Judah Friendlander