The debut film from director Ruth Paxton is full of intriguing ideas and strong performances, but never quite finds its focus. A Banquet centers on the relationship between a recently bereaved mother and daughter. Exploring the dynamics between the two, it manages to keep the relationship at arm's length, the strangely organized and dimly lit interiors of their home further serving to create the feeling of a space that is not quite real, where the picture is not quite complete.
So many ideas are thrown into the mix, it's fascinating just watching to see which will win out. There's trauma, adolescent drama, hysteria, possession, doomsday, mental health, eating disorders, religious epiphany, existential crisis, caring, faith ... the list goes on. But it's the inability to really steer in any one direction that ultimately lets the movie down. Open ends are great, but when there are too many, there's a danger of nothing concrete left at the core. One for the more patient horror fans, who appreciate psychodrama over scares, it's a highly unique film that will most certainly unsettle, but not quite make the impact to live up to its potential.