A Banquet: Review

A Banquet

Holly (Sienna Guillory) is going through the grieving process after losing her husband to chronic illness. She has two daughters; Isabelle (Ruby Stokes) and Betsey (Jessica Alexander) who is the oldest and more outgoing than her sister.

Then one day Betsey starts to complain of stomach aches, so Holly takes her to see the doctor, however he can see nothing physically wrong and suggests it may be more psychological. Unable to handle this news, Holly isn’t very sympathetic to her daughter and when Betsey starts believing that her body has been possessed, in preparation for use by a higher power, then she starts to think that Betsey is losing her mind.

A Banquet is the feature debut of director Ruth Paxton which deals candidly with mental health and eating disorder issues, all in the guise of a horror movie. A difficult subject to tackle, the script manages to guide the audience through what the family are experiencing and it seem to be done as realistically as possible. However, there’s still the matter of the horror and again it proves to be a difficult genre to frame around such a grounded subject.

On the one hand, depicting eating disorders and mental health issues as horror risks offending those who have experienced these issues themselves. On the other hand, having such a subject and calling it a horror movie risks putting off horror fans because of the subject matter and that they may not be getting what they want.

After all, it seems that if it weren’t for the moody cinematography and ominous score, A Banquet could easily have been a drama about a family dealing with teenage eating disorders.

For those listening to the dialogue and understanding that the scenes have not (mostly) been exaggerated for dramatic effect, then A Banquet is a no holds barred drama about a difficult time in a family’s life. However, for those who watching, expecting something more sinister and supernatural, then they’re going to be disappointed.

A Banquet is a movie trying to do something different with a genre that may have never been done before. Where it does show that the subject is never that black and white and never hyperbolises mental health, it doesn’t offer much of a satisfying conclusion either.

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