Film Review – Beast

Beast (M)

Directed by: Baltasar Kormakur

Starring: Idris Elba, Sharlto Copley

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Review by: Julian Wright

Big screen hunk Idris Elba is the everyday man out of his comfort zine in this man vs beast thriller that plays out a bit more like the satisfyingly silly Crawl than the terrifying creep-fest Cujo.

After his wife dies, Dr Nate Samuels (Idris Elba) takes his two daughters Meredith (Iyana Halley) and Norah (Leah Jeffries) to her home country South Africa to visit where she grew up and also visit old family friend Martin (Sharlto Copley).

While exploring the Savanna, the group discover slain villagers and their vehicle is soon attacked by a territorial and particularly savage male lion.

With their guide Martin severely injured, their vehicle trapped and no radio signal to call for help, the vacationing trio must find a way to survive the relentless beast.

This is a classic case of a cheesy B-grade film given the A-grade treatment – and sometimes that is all you need from cinema.

The schlocky elements are apparent with the prologue slaughter setting up the danger and plot points hammered home in repeated, obvious exposition dialogue for those who have either completely switched off or are half looking at their phones.

Director Kormakur elevates the script somewhat, bringing a clear vision to his film, utilising the illusion of long single takes to tell the story.

His camera follows the characters as they move around and interact, often swirling around them. Though Kormakur uses this technique consistently, it is only effective some of the time: when establishing benign locations (their accommodation) it is distracting, but when the threat is near, it is incredibly effective in building tension.

The cast are serviceable- Elba plays ordinary man effectively and the young women are appropriately terrified, but this isn’t exactly the project that allows for much of an arc.

While Beast doesn’t quite deliver the catharsis you might crave from these outings, it is nevertheless and entertaining distraction that offers a few effective jump scares and built almost exclusively out of moments that have you yelling at the screen. And in a group setting, that is half the fun.

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