By: April Shire
Newly-widowed Holly (Sienna Guillory, Resident Evil Afterlife, 2010) and her daughters Betsey ( Jessica Alexander, Get Even, 2020), Isabelle( Ruby Stokes, Brigerton, 2020) have been through a devastating loss. Betsey witnesses her father dying, and is dealing with the pressure of what she will do with her life. Isabelle is becoming a teenager. Holly is trying to raise the girls the best she can while dealing with grief. Then to add to the drama, Betsey comes home from a party behaving strangely. She stops eating, states she has a higher divine purpose, because she has been "chosen". By whom? For what? That's what Holly is trying to figure out.
Betsey can't stand the sight of food. She becomes ill if she tries to eat. Her mother and sister struggle to figure out what is causing this, because they don't believe it's divine intervention. Betsey's friends become estranged from her, due to her divine conquest. Holly is determined to figure out what's wrong with her daughter. Nothing is making sense, and Holly feels she is running out of time.
A BANQUET is a very slow-building type of horror film. It keeps you on edge as to what is happening to Betsey, and showcases how it affects the whole family dynamic. Parts of the film are gross, yet cinematically pleasing to the eye. Director Ruth Paxton (River City, 2020) and cinematographer Justin Bell (Merge 2015) tell a brutally bizarre story from start to finish. You feel Betsey's aversion to food in the pit of your very own stomach. I know my stomach felt absolutely wrecked with some scenes - including an epic dream sequence that was reminiscent of the 1979 film Alien. This movie was like watching a constant transformation scene, waiting for what the final form would end up being.
Overall, A BANQUET is a slow build to the end of a wild fever dream. You really don't know what's completely happening to this family or why, but you can't quite turn away. It would have been nice to catch this on a bigger theatrical screen, and to hear the gasps and sighs of the audience. Don't just take it from me, though, you can catch this unique film on Vudu, Prime Video, YouTube, and Google play t.v. Full disclaimer: not for those with sensitive stomachs.