Peter (James LeGros, The Last Winter) is the host of his own cooking show, and also the chef at a chic gourmet restaurant. He focuses on organic, sustainable ways of eating, for example cooking a deer he killed and butchered himself. Unfortunately his technique doesn’t garner enough ratings, and Peter loses the show and his upcoming line of cookware. Add to this recipe a bad review of his restaurant by infamous mean food critic J.T. Franks (Joshua Leonard, The Blair Witch Project) and Peter, who had been pretty unstable since childhood, goes off the deep end. He kidnaps Franks and chains him up. Planning a “rehabilitation,” his goal is to turn the tables on the critic. Peter shows Franks how hard it is to be a chef by allowing him to eat only what he cooks perfectly. When this fails to break him (though he does go a little crazy), Peter kidnaps Franks’s wife Katherine (Amy Seimetz, You’re Next, The Sacrament), whom he has a nasty gustatory surprise for.
I think one of the most striking things about Bitter Feast is the lack of likable characters. Peter is a loony, arrogant sadist. (However, I do have a grudging admiration for his hardcore devotion to being green–the man doesn’t even use plastic grocery bags.) Franks is a failed writer who takes out his bitterness on everyone around him, particularly Katherine. Other characters include Coley (genre icon Larry Fessenden), a sleazy private investigator who breaks into Peter’s house and eats out of his fridge, and Peter’s annoying costar Peg. Katherine, though she gets more interesting towards the end of the movie, is pretty devoid of personality.
The film can be quite gory at times. There is a lot of blood and more than one shot of dead animal pieces (and a skinned rabbit). But there are some wonderfully subtle touches as well, like a scene before the kidnapping when Peter is standing at his kitchen counter labeling a series of locks. We don’t know what they’re for yet, but it can’t be nice.
I almost always hate horror movie dialogue that attempts to be funny, but with this film I enjoy the occasional, tasteful one-liners. Also amusing to me is a cameo by T.V. chef Mario Batali, who lets fly a string of f-bombs he’d never be able to get away with on Food Network. The film crosses the line from horror to dark humor well, a process that most horror movies botch. Give it a look if you’re in the mood for something intense but amusing.