A Banquet is a 2021 British horror film in which a young woman comes to believe that she is intended for a higher purpose.
Directed by Ruth Paxton from a screenplay by Justin Bull.
The Tea Shop Productions-Riverstone Pictures-Reliance Entertainment Productions 8 movie stars Sienna Guillory, Jessica Alexander, Ruby Stokes, Lindsay Duncan, Kaine Zajaz, Richard Keep, Deka Walmsley and Rina Mahoney.
Widowed mother Holly (Sienna Guillory) is radically tested when her teenage daughter Betsey (Jessica Alexander) experiences profound enlightenment and insists that her body is no longer her own but in service to a higher power.
Bound to her newfound faith, Betsey refuses to eat but experiences no weight loss. In an agonising dilemma, torn between love and fear, Holly is forced to confront the boundaries of her own beliefs…
“Directing with confidence and misdirecting with grace, Paxton draws us into a world where the absence of apparent solutions becomes compelling in itself, helping us to bridge that psychic divide before pulling the rug from under us again with a devastating ending.” Eye for Film
“Paxton, working from a screenplay by Justin Bull, captures the drama between the three generations of women superbly, and her cast members all give top-notch performances. Alexander is hypnotic as a young woman who others feel is troubled though she feels she is experiencing a spiritual awakening, and Guillory captures every subtle nuance required of her as her character is run through an emotional wringer.” Horror Fuel
“The flair of the filmmaking adds a sleek style over A Banquet that extends to the ghastly close-ups and sound design […] The nastier the film becomes, the clumsier the scripting follows. Despite a bit of a narrative stumble when it comes to the conclusion, A Banquet is an impressive horror feast whose squelching noises are permanently burned into my memory.” Josh at the Movies
“A Banquet is more of a miss than a triumph, but some aspects have leverage. Ruth Paxton has talent that needs polishing with more experience. Still, I’m looking forward to what she has to offer next. Instead of a feast, we get a meal; it isn’t what we asked for nor isn’t all to our liking, but in the end, you still eat it. Less time building the horror that doesn’t latch and more delivering psychological thrills would have worked for the better.” The Movie Buff
“As A Banquet reached its overheated climax, I realized I didn’t care enough where it was going or what Paxton was trying to say with it. She keeps her characters as ciphers to increase the tension, but it gives the whole thing an exaggerated anti-realism that’s not supplanted with enough style or personality on a visual level to sustain the film.” RogerEbert.com
“There is definitely something to be explored in the correlation between horror and eating disorders, and the toll it takes on a family, but its irritating tendency to get distracted by a new theme spoils the broth, not to mention an ambiguous ending that doesn’t connect with much from the previous 90 minutes. A potential not fully realised, it fails to connect in any meaningful way.” Tilt
“Acts as simple and innocuous as chewing and cutting food as represented as viscerally and uncomfortably as possible, bringing to mind gore and entrails. This narrative oral fixation makes the familiarity of eating food feel strange and unnatural, disrupting the ordinary flow of life and replacing it with horror in a fascinating way.” The Upcoming
While sometimes A Banquet bites off more than it can chew, it more or less sticks the landing on the back of its grotesquely compelling cinematography and excellent character work.
” …A Banquet does offer a sensitive, considered exploration of family beliefs and boundaries, and it’s sympathetically acted by a talented cast with its catastrophic end note which finally upsets the awful quiet. For fans of atmosphere over narrative, there’s a lot to get lost in and to appreciate here.” Warped Perspective
In the United States, A Banquet is released by IFC Films theatrically and On-Demand on February 18th 2022.
Cast and characters:
Sienna Guillory … Holly
Jessica Alexander … Betsey
Ruby Stokes … Isabelle
Lindsay Duncan … June
Kaine Zajaz … Dominic
Richard Keep … Jason
Deka Walmsley … Doctor
Rina Mahoney … Sarah
Jonathan Nyati … Careers Adviser
Walter van Dyk … Dentist
Andrew Steele … Clinic Manager
Adam Abbou … Caleb
Finn Bennett … Sean
Dylan Clout … Jack
Selena Thompson … Anna
Kevin Marshall … Ice Skating Coach
Hannah Zoé Ankrah … Maya
Suzie Voce … Sophia
Khariis Ubiaro … Louis
Leon Finnan … Harry
Zak Douglas … Will
1 hour 37 minutes