Current someplace on the crossroads of Jack Ketchum’s “The Field” and Rose Glass’s Saint Maud lies A Banquet. A wierd affliction wreaks havoc on the lives of a household nonetheless on the mend from tragedy. Ruth Paxton’s function debut favors a sluggish simmering ambiance in a psychodrama that sees a household in psychological deterioration. One that may check the viewers’s persistence as a lot because it does its lead characters.
Holly (Sienna Guillory) places on a courageous face to lift her daughters alone after dropping her husband to a horrible sickness. Placing all of her focus onto caring for them means she’s delay processing the psychological influence of caregiving. She’s not the one one; teen daughter Betsey (Jessica Alexander) witnessed her dad’s last, painful gasps, but she hasn’t as soon as spoken about its impact on her. The household clings tightly to any semblance of normality, no less than the pretense of it, however it all unravels when Betsey turns into satisfied that her physique not belongs to her. She’s misplaced her urge for food fully and claims she’s now a vessel to a better energy. It causes intense friction within the household and exams every part Holly thought she knew about her daughter and herself.
Paxton’s imaginative and prescient is methodical, deliberate, and meditative. So is the lead character, Holly. Holly operates on construction. It’s evident within the sterile, modern house. It’s conveyed within the meticulous manner Holly prepares rigorously plated and ultra-healthy meals for her daughters, worthy of a superb eating meals stylist. It’s in the way in which she rigorously scrapes away all the peas on Betsey’s plate as she bargains together with her to eat. In contrast, Betsey’s each bit the messy adolescent that’s testing boundaries and dabbling in vices. A minimum of till the fateful, off-screen occasion that robs her of her being.
A Banquet appears to be like inward, extra within the inside workings of this household’s decay and Holly’s confrontations with each her teen and herself in pursuit of solutions. Paxton and author Justin Bull refuse to surrender solutions simply. That implies that the horror doesn’t come simply both; it’s a slow-burn in each sense. That additionally implies that when the horror does come, its influence hits more durable. Paxton exams your gag reflexes with one jolting sequence of physique horror that makes you would like she injected extra moments of grotesque surrealism all through.
It’s a closely stylized and sometimes chilly depiction of psychological unraveling, and Paxton leaves a lot unstated. There’s no hand-holding right here, and it requires persistence and studying between the traces. For a lot of, the horror could be too delicate for lengthy stretches to reward. It doesn’t assist that Guillory performs Holly with the aloofness befitting of her character, making her arc a bit too restrained in some ways. The purpose is obvious, particularly when Holly’s mom (Lindsay Duncan) enters the equation.
Repressed trauma and its ripple results play out in a really peculiar, disquieting manner. Fashionable filmmaking and the usage of culinary delicacies in a function the place a teen refuses, or can’t, eat makes for a visually intriguing first effort. It builds ever so slowly into a 3rd act that sometimes revolts and definitely provides extra meals for thought. However that meal could not absolutely satiate.
A Banquet premiered on the Toronto Worldwide Movie Competition and has been acquired by IFC Midnight.