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A Banquet (2021)

Two slow burn horror mysteries in a row today. Two mothers with a fixation on their children. Here, Director Ruth Paxton focuses on the dietary preferences of a young girl who , during a party, nips off into the woods for a couple of minutes, and comes out a profoundly changed person.

Why? Well, telling us would be too easy. This has to be wrung, like a wet flannel. And wrung hard.

Noticeably, after the event, she stops eating but never loses weight, which makes her widowed mother Holly (Sienna Guillory) and grandmother suitably curious. This goes on for months and the daughter becomes more and more withdrawn, explaining in reducing amounts of lucidity that she has been chosen for a purpose and that the world will end soon.

Paxton clearly doesn't like to rush as this could equally have been done in half the time, but has kept the pace languid and the tension simmering. It isn't an easy watch for most of its runtime as we're invited to suffer alongside the family as the daughter becomes more distant, often comatose and while conscious, most often babbling on about her reason for being, admittedly which nobody understands, even after having it explained to them (and I include the audience).

Overall, it is engaging, the acting isn't too bad but we're not asking much. The direction is assured but the plot doesn't do justice to the length or the amount of suffering we're witness to. 'We will because we can' is not a rule that should be followed too often in the same way as 'get out while the going is good' is often overlooked.

Not a horror in the traditional sense which leaves us asking questions that we can legitimately expect answers to. Shame we didn't get them.

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