Bitter Feast

Revenge is a dish best served cold. Bitter Feast embraces this idea whole-heartedly. Unfortunately I happen to like my food with a bit of spice and variety. Director Joe Maggio has a game cast, a unique hook and a sharp eye. All these strengths come together to give us a tale of culinary horror that is often troubling but never truly compelling.

As the film opens, we find that Chef Peter Grey (James Le Gros) is not in a good mood. He is having trouble living up to the first half of his title as Celebrity Chef. He must endure product placement, marketing strategies and annoyingly perky co-workers when all he wants to do is cook. When he hears that his TV show may be canceled soon, he retreats to his restaurant only to find worse news waiting there. What should be a bustling display of gastronomic splendor is as quiet as a morgue. It seems fitting since his culinary career has freshly expired. This is all thanks to a single withering review by food blogger J.T. Franks (Joshua Leonard) which costs Grey his adoring audience and his restaurant.

Grey heads to his house in the countryside and hatches a plan over one of his elaborate single-serving meals. Before you know it, Franks has been drugged and chained up in Grey's basement. What follows is a most unusual form of torture. Grey wants to teach Franks a lesson by making him eat his words. He makes Franks perform tasks like preparing a perfect over-easy egg (no runny yolks here) or cooking a steak medium-rare. When Franks inevitably fails (cooking in handcuffs under duress will do that), Grey punishes him with starvation and worse. What's worse, you ask? How about a frying pan to the face or some cutlery through one's hand? Grey's mistreatment of Franks and a parallel investigation by Mrs. Franks (Amy Seimetz) and her plucky P.I. (Larry Fessenden) takes the film to its poetic finish.

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