A scene from ‘Beast’ courtesy of Universal Studios
Originally posted August 19, 2022
‘Beast’ is an animal revenge movie masquerading as a family drama, which muddies the narrative and frustrates audiences on multiple levels.
There have been numerous horror and sci-fi movies since the 1950s that have strived to make audiences fear nature and its potential for destruction. What started with mutated bugs the size of buildings evolved into thrillers featuring normal mammals and fishes with a bone to pick with humans. Consequently, as environmental concerns intensify, creating more reasons nature may turn on us, the capacity for these animal revenge films also increase. In Beast, it’s man vs. lion as the king of the jungle develops an insatiable bloodlust.
Following the death of his wife, Nate (Idris Elba) takes his daughters, Meredith (Iyana Halley) and Norah (Leah Jeffries), to visit her hometown in South Africa. Staying with their best friend, Martin (Sharlto Copley), Nate hopes their family can reconnect and begin to heal following their devastating loss. Martin works with the wildlife reserves and takes them on a breathtaking safari. When they find evidence of an unprecedented wild animal attack, they immediately try to go for help. Their path, however, is filled with obstacles, including a relentless lion on a mission to avenge his pride.
There’s no way not to compare this movie to Jaws as it features a wild animal irrationally attacking humans — it’s just on land instead of in the water. However, that’s where the similarities end as this narrative is riddled with issues and missed opportunities. There are very compelling stories involving Martin’s character, including a sidestepped confrontation and his role as an anti-poacher, that could have unquestionably enhanced the quality of the narrative. Conversely, there are inappropriately timed quarrels between Nate and his girls, as well as too many poor decisions by Meredith who lives her young life like she has a death wish and/or no common sense. Paired with obvious exposition and an overly used hurdle, one of the few things the movie doesn’t fail to do is frustrate its viewers.
It feels as if the writers didn’t settle on the type of story they were going to pen, resulting in a movie that shows glimmers of a solid family drama and potential for a good revenge picture, but disappoints by not committing to either. Consequently, they could have omitted certain aspects of the story in favour of others and it might have been more engaging. What’s most unfortunate is Elba and Copley display excellent chemistry and it would have been very interesting to watch the above-mentioned conflicts play out on the screen. In the end, this isn’t the movie anyone deserved.