A stylish psychological thriller is elevated by a strong cast


There are a few eye-rolling moments, but that doesn’t distract from the fact that A Banquet is a beautifully made psychological thriller with nuanced performances.

A banquet is masterful in its graceful energy. The film doesn’t overstay its reception in terms of runtime or preposterous imagery. Director Ruth Paxton (Impulse) and screenwriter Justin Bull (Merge) are fully synchronized from the opening scene to the final image, just like the cast. A banquet is a carefully crafted horror that is expertly filmed by cinematographer David Liddell (The skin), which brings fear and dignity to the whole film. A banquet isn’t likely to blow anyone’s socks off, but it might blow chunks out of them the next time they see a five-star meal.

Betsey (Jessica Alexander) watches her mother Holly (Sienna Guillory) do whatever she can to care for her sick father, Jason (Richard Keep), until one day he dies by suicide. She seems to bond with her mother over the tragedy, embracing the big sister role while enjoying a social life that Holly doesn’t get in the way. One night, Betsey tries some powdered alcohol and wanders into the woods. When she emerges, something has taken hold of her. Betsey and her sister Isabelle (Ruby Stokes) slowly realize the financial problems their mother has been hiding since their father died. However, the only thing that does not change is their diet. Holly is a magnificent chef who only cooks the most appetizing dishes. Trouble is, the main side effect of Betsey’s supernatural awakening is that even the sight of a single pea makes her vomit.


Related: The Cursed Review: Lacks Werewolf Horror Depth & Momentum

a banquet movie review

After seeing every type of doctor and eventually force-feeding her own daughter, Holly is forced to come to terms with the fact that something no one can explain is happening to Betsey. Holly enlists the help of her own mother, June (Lindsay Duncan), to recant an old folk tale that brings some truth and horror to Betsey’s new illness and grave possessions. The film’s best performance came from TV legend Duncan (Leftovers). She enters the story as a skeptical grandmother who thinks everything can be solved with money and ends up delivering the Seminole monologue. She comes in like a hurricane, immediately making her strength felt on the characters and the audience. Duncan is at the top of his game and A banquet it’s always better when she’s on screen.

That’s not to say Alexander isn’t pulling his own weight as a leader. Bull has written a gripping story about the cool mom in dire circumstances and the goth-faced daughter with a heart of gold. Turning those tropes into what looks like high-level family is no small feat. While Alexander can be said to overdo in the true horror scenes, it’s only the mechanics of playing someone who is possessed that limits his performance; it’s a difficult task for even the most seasoned actor. In the scenes where she is in her right mind, she is a revelation as an actress. She is thoughtful, believable and very charming. The sky is the limit for Ms. Alexander.

a banquet review

Ruth Paxton and David Liddell came to play, and from the opening scene, it’s easy to see the film is in good hands. A banquet is well lit, well shot and visually appealing. Tight tracking shots of Duncan as she opens the story wide is just the icing on the cake for a film that doesn’t try to impress viewers with camera tricks, but instead relies on a tried and true cinema, as well as on major aesthetic decisions of the design production. The family home is modern and welcoming like many horror movies are, but at no point does it become a distracting “evil house” or “they’re trapped” flick.

The entire film is dimly lit, with flat, gray, black, and white shades that bring out the dark nature of the father’s suicide. In contrast, the food that Holly cooks jumps off the screen and is filmed like an episode of Chopped directed by David Fincher. It’s so gorgeous that viewers won’t notice that it’s bad and perfect and kills people. The cast of A banquet is in a tight groove and everyone behind the camera has the same vision. From the scenography to the lighting of the dishes, no aspect of the production process is neglected. There are a few literal eye-rolling moments, but they don’t distract from the final product. A banquet is a beautifully directed psychological thriller with nuanced performances and a crude hook.

Next: Drive My Car Review: Hamaguchi’s Award-Winning Drama Is Rich And Exhilarating

A banquet released in select theaters and on demand on February 18. The film is 97 minutes long and is unrated.

Our assessment:

3 out of 5 (good)

Lila in TCM

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2022: Why [SPOILER] Go after Leatherface


About Author

Comments are closed.