DVD review: Bitter Feast

Chef JimLet me preface this by saying I’m not a horror flick guy. I think you either are or you’re not, and I’m not. But that said, when “Bitter Feast” was pitched to me, it was pitched as “a horror flick for foodies.” And of course, they hook you in by telling you Mario Batali, the same Mario Batali who is an Iron Chef on Food Network, stars in the film. Well, okay, why not then?

So the story, created by Joe Maggio, takes place in what appears to be New York City, but I’m not sure that is ever referenced. Chef Peter Grey’s (James LeGros) world starts caving in around him when his TV show is canceled, and then he receives a bad review by notorious food blogger JT Franks (Joshua Leonard), which then leads to poor attendance at the restaurant where he is executive chef, owned by a fellow named Gordon (Batali). Gordon fires Grey, which is hilarious only because we get to see Mario Batali drop F-bombs like nobody’s business. And he fires him mostly because of that review.

Of course, this sends Grey into a tizzy and he can only suppress his rage for so long. We also find out along the way that Grey killed his older brother as a young boy in self-defense, so we know what he’s capable of. Franks, meanwhile, is having his own problems at home after his 2-year old son dies from cancer, and he and his wife are having problems coping and also getting along themselves. Grey knocks Franks out in a dark alley and drags him to what appears to be a cabin in the middle of nowhere, probably meant to be upstate New York.

When Franks awakes, Grey reads some of the reviews from Franks about Grey, and then makes him cook the same dish, with anything less than perfection resulting in torture. For example, the first one is an egg, and if Franks cooks the egg properly, he gets to eat it. If not, Grey beats him and continues to hold him as a prisoner in the basement. Of course, Franks never does anything properly, and doesn’t get to eat until Grey feeds him something with poison berries that cave his windpipe in, almost suffocating him.

Grey also kills the detective sent after him with an axe, and eventually kidnaps Franks’ wife. He then sets Franks free but has a hunting rifle and tells Franks he has three minutes to escape, after which Grey is coming after him. What ensues is suspenseful, horrifying and at the same time has a very clever ending.

Really, the whole premise of this film is more disturbing than gory, and sometimes those are more horrifying than anything. But hey, there are definitely foodie moments in it, despite the fact that Batali stars for about three minutes total.

If you like indie horror flicks, this is one you really should watch. It’s really well-done and frighteningly believeable. If you’re just a foodie like me and close your eyes at stuff like this, you might be better off just watching Batali on Iron Chef.

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