Beast

****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Beast
"The feeling of exposure to evil never fades" | Photo: Kerry Brown

The title is the only cliche. The rest is surprise, mystery, fear in the fourth degree. It doesn't creep up on you like the ghost of Halloween. It infiltrates the uncertainties and rebellious nature of teenagers only to question the rationality of their extreme decisions.

Serial killers have become a staple of TV cop shows. DNA, DCIs, signatures left at the scene, stormy nights, young women alone, torture porn, sharp knives, bleeding on the carpet. And so it goes. You have been here. You know the rules and the unrules. What interests you is why. The first death is the deepest. After that it's casual, a tease. After that it's Dexter.

Copy picture

None of this could be further from Beast. This is the island of Jersey where rich people enjoy a privileged life style. The locals, the natives, the inborns have other things to do, other things to think about. Girls are being killed. English girls. Has anyone listened to the news?

Moll (Jessie Buckley) is so bored at her birthday party that she sneaks off to the nearest dance club and hooks up with a stud who takes her down to the beach when she's pissed and makes a move that will undoubtedly lead to rape. At this point a boy with a rifle shows up and the stud scarpers.

Who is this boy? He must be 19, blond, tangled hair, bit of a beard, attractive and self possessed. He's a native and proud of it. His name is Pascal (Johnny Flynn). He's not afraid of anything. Or so he says.

This could have been a reboot of Rebel Without A Cause with Buckley playing the Natalie Wood role but it's different because of these murders that encroach ever closer to their lives and, ultimately, their freedom.

Pascal is a suspect. There is something about his past that looks suspicious. Moll lies for him. Her infatuation changes the dynamic. She loses that rosy innocence and shy virgin sweetness and becomes changed, almost dangerous. Her mother (Geraldine James) despairs. Once family loyalty would have tethered Moll to her duty as a daughter. Now she has cut the ties and run off with a boy who can't even behave properly at the dinner table.

Writer/director Michael Pearce has come out of nowhere, like Steven Spielberg with Duel. His originality is contained in a tight screenplay that avoids well trodden paths. The performances are strong. The feeling of exposure to evil never fades and yet where is it coming from, who is it affecting?

Nothing breaks like love. Nothing bonds like blood. No one is safe.

Reviewed on: 20 Apr 2018
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Beast packshot
A teenager finds herself torn between the control of her family and an outsider who is suspected of murder.

Director: Michael Pearce

Writer: Michael Pearce

Starring: Jessie Buckley, Johnny Flynn, Geraldine James, Trystan Gravelle, Emily Taaffe, Charley Palmer Rothwell, Hattie Gotobed, Shannon Tarbet, Olwen Fouere, Tim Woodward

Year: 2017

Runtime: 107 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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