Film Review: Beast is a B-grade popcorn thriller with a surprising injection of emotion and immersion

  • Peter Gray
  • August 24, 2022
  • Comments Off on Film Review: Beast is a B-grade popcorn thriller with a surprising injection of emotion and immersion

Given that we’ve had a share of snakes and sharks and bears (Oh My!) over the years as the creatures that have opted to stalk various familiar-faced talent, it’s only fair that the majestic king of the jungle get their due too.

If the circle of life taught us anything, it’s that what goes around always comes back, so it makes sense that proven genre director Baltasur Kormákur (Adrift, Everest) would grab the opportunity for the lion’s time in the sun.

As much as the advertising angle for Beast would like us to think that the titularly described animal is loose and stalk-heavy for the sake of B-grade thriller-fuelled popcorn entertainment, Kormákur and screenwriter Ryan Engle (Rampage, The Commuter) are smart enough to frame the animal as a rogue force that’s already threatened other species in the animal kingdom, in addition to an unsuspecting African village.

Essentially, this beast is like the Liam Neeson of his tribe, ready to hunt down and take out anyone that hurts his family – he indeed will find you and kill you – so when a series of poachers murder his pride, he’s got a taste for blood and a mentality for pain.  This doesn’t work out so well for Idris Elba‘s Nate Samuels, a widowed doctor who is hoping to reconnect with his young daughters (Iyana Halley‘s Meredith and Leah Jeffries‘s Norah) following the death of their mother.

Guilty over his distance in the months since her passing, taking his girls to their mother’s homeland sounds like the first step in healing their broken relationship.  For a brief moment, it seems to work – long-time friend Martin Battles (Sharlto Copley) assisting Nate along the way – but the resentment from them still lingers.  Hey, nothing an unexpected lion attack won’t fix.  Right?

A trek out to see some of the gorgeous landscape sends them to a small village that, unbeknownst to Martin, Nate, and his two daughters, has been savagely mauled-through only moments prior.  Martin, sensing that whatever was responsible is likely to still be close by, insists the family stay in their vehicle, and though Nate initially adheres to the classic horror trope of not listening to sound advice, he and his daughters end up trapped inside a gradually declining-in-safety rover that impressively manages to act as a locale for a serious portion of the film’s running time.

Across Beast‘s brisk 93 minutes, Nate, Meredith and Norah are largely involved in a game of (big) cat and mouse, and whilst many of the attack and stalk sequences don’t exactly break any genre moulds, the surprising injection of emotion, Elba’s committed performance, and lush camera work from Kormákur – the unbroken single shots utilised here really add a layer of immersion that such a simple film doesn’t necessarily deserve – consistently elevate proceedings beyond its B-grade temperament.

THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Beast is screening in Australian theatres from August 25th, 2022.

Peter Gray

Film critic with a penchant for Dwayne Johnson, Jason Momoa, Michelle Pfeiffer and horror movies, harbouring the desire to be a face of entertainment news.