Newest Reviews
American Fiction
Poor Things
Legend of the Bat
Party Line
Night Fright
Pacha, Le
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Imperial Swordsman
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
  Banquet, A Calamity All Round
Year: 2021
Director: Ruth Paxton
Stars: Sienna Guillory, Jessica Alexander, Ruby Stokes, Lindsay Duncan, Kaine Zajaz, Richard Keep, Deka Walmsley, Rina Mahoney, Jonathan Nyati, Walter Van Dyk, Andrew Steele, Adam Abbou, Finn Bennett, Dylan Clout, Selena Thompson
Genre: Horror, Drama, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Holly (Sienna Guillory) suffered a loss recently. Her husband was terminally ill and she was his carer, but as the pain grew worse and worse he felt he could not go on, and while she was out of the room preparing a protein shake, he drank bleach and collapsed and died in a pool of his own bloody vomit. To make matters worse, their eldest daughter Betsey (Jessica Alexander) witnessed this happen: she never mentions it, but it must have had an effect on her. But as she prepares to move on from school and possibly into higher education, a curious apathy overtakes her and she starts to wonder what could fulfil her. With no real answer, she begins to drift through life until a miracle occurs one night - or is it a curse?

A kind of cross between Todd Haynes' Safe and The Exorcist, only without an exorcist character or indeed an exorcism, A Banquet was the debut feature from director Ruth Paxton after a number of shorts and a bit of Scottish television soap. On this evidence, she was able to sustain a very tricky narrative that kept you guessing, and any issues with the way it was resolved stemmed from the screenplay by Justin Bull, who concocted a real conundrum that raised all sorts of questions, but did not quite wrap it up satisfyingly. Something more concrete and less ambiguous might have been preferable, though it was accurate to observe there was already plenty of ambiguity inherent in the plotline, so it may be the correct choice for some audiences.

Not everyone likes an open ending, however, and one that may be a dream - as pre-empted by a nightmare sequence earlier in the action - could be regarded as a bit of a cheat. However, look at the rest of it and you would find a work that was on the science fiction spectrum, tinged with horror (more than tinged in places), and also a weird domestic drama built around a diagnosis of apparently untreatable illness, here a form of eating disorder. The tyranny of having someone ill in the home, be that mentally or physically, is a subject tackled by horror fiction fairly often, seeing someone you know and love become, if not a monster, exactly, then demanding to a degree that becomes a burden, both on the afflicted and those around them, though it affects everyone in different ways. As teenage mental health had become a growing crisis in the twenty-first century, this felt timely.

And, as Holly demonstrates, it's not only teenagers who get struck down by mental disorders, as her past with her trauma to do with her husband has obviously been brewing, so Betsey's troubles come at a very bad time for her, especially when we see latterly she has bought into what may be her daughter's delusions. Yet are they delusions? After a joke at a party is played on her, Betsey stumbles out into the forest and has an epiphany as she witnesses a blood red full moon overhead: is this her own trauma getting the better of her, the pressure to take responsibility for herself, or (and we're never very sure about this) is there a cosmic being trying to take her soul under the guise of saving it? That latter may be too farfetched for many viewers, therefore they will gravitate to Lindsay Duncan as the no-nonsense Gran, a scene-stealing performance of rationality that, we realise, has no place in this insular world of Holly and Betsey, and, to an extent, the other daughter Isabelle (Ruby Stokes) who is just too normal for all this. It was always going to disappoint a section of the audience, but for the most part, highly impressive for what it was considering. Music by CJ Mirra.

[A Banquet - A Shudder Exclusive
New Film Premieres 26th May 2022.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 1140 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Enoch Sneed
  Louise Hackett
Darren Jones
Mark Le Surf-hall
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M


Last Updated: