Giving a whole new meaning to “release your inner beast”, Beast No More is an emotional display of loss and grief while providing moments of action, horror, and surprise. Backwoods horror tropes lay the groundwork for a larger statement piece on emotional loss.
The primary theme of this film is without question loneliness. Opening sprawling shots of trees and winding roads with only one car descending deeper into the wild (while beautiful) evoke a strong sense of loneliness and isolation. These opening shots expertly set the tone for the entire film and within minutes we are introduced to the protagonist’s damage and boy is it heavy.
Mourning the loss of her son Toby, MJ (Jessica Tovey) decides to fully immerse herself in her work as an entomologist by examining a rare mutated moth in the Australian bush. Her emotionally unavailable husband Jake (Dan Ewing) and blind sister Beth (Taya Calder-Mason) find MJ and try to bring her home. While on this trip these three meet a wildly deformed boy (Joel Franco/Scott Peadon). MJ sees an opportunity to become a mother again, and she soon finds out that all opportunity comes at a cost.
First and foremost I want to highlight the makeup in this film. The special FX makeup for Mothboy was aesthetically stunning. Grotesque deformities and maladies make the boy’s appearance unsettling, but enough humanity remains to remind the viewer that this is a boy who was tossed aside and left to die simply because he was different. In doing so audiences are left feeling more sympathetic than repulsed. Think Quasimodo meets Phantom of the Opera circa 1925. In other words, it’s definitely a face only a mother could love.
Director Aaron Warwick, writers Jennifer Van Gessel and Matthew Schelle, and the entire creative team took Beast No More and synergized all the elements of the film around that central theme of loneliness. From the eerily simple piano during the opening and closing credits to the isolated film location to the clever character development and storyline, each puzzle piece was carefully laid out to create one whopper of a story.
The last 15 minutes of Beast No More brought forth some (dare I say pleasantly) unexpected surprises that added to the film’s grittiness and beastly undertones. All the characters must confront and deal with the loneliness of some kind, and it’s their ability to deal with these feelings of loneliness and loss that determines who the true beasts are.
Beast No More has a standout cast that delivered exceptional performances in their given roles. Special recognition should be given to Tovey for commanding the screen for most of the film and making choices that made me love and hate her all at once.
The greatest element of this film is that every single character acts like a beast. Not in the traditionally-animalistic sense perhaps, but lying, murder, assault, battery, threats, rape, imprisonment, and neglect are all sins committed by the characters in this film. Only one has the appearance of a beast, but all have shown the worst versions of themselves in one way or another. By the end of the film, we are left asking ourselves, what really separates man from beast? Is it the ability to reason? To love? Something else entirely?
Hunter S. Thompson said, “He who makes a beast out of himself, gets rid of the pain of being a man”. If this is true, then Beast No More is a journey of pain and of transition. A transition of human pain into beastly behavior fueled by the desire to no longer feel consumed by grief and suffering. Most unsettling regarding this transition is the decrease in awareness. The nearer to becoming a beast, the more unaware man becomes. Beast No More brings the beast to the light and is worth your time.
Movie Rating: 7 out of 10
|Beast No More|
|Runtime:||1hr. 20 Mins.|