Beast Mode

*

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Beast Mode
"Apparently it's supposed to satirise Hollywood bad behaviour, but it's fundamentally too tame for that."

When a desperate film producer tries an ancient herbal remedy on his stand-in star, a strange curse takes effect. in the midnight hour, the star is transformed into a ferocious beast which rampages through Hollywood. Sounds so bad it might be good, right? Wrong. It's just bad.

Bargain basement Eighties star C Thomas Howell (remember him?) plays the producer, Breen Nash, whose troubles begin when he accidentally kills mysteriously popular actor and social disaster Huckle Saxton (James Duval). He finds a lookalike (also played by Duval) and plans to make a simple substitution in order to save his film, but the lookalike has scars which, we're told, no make-up can cover (something nobody who has worked with make-up will believe for a second). Rather than, say, put him in a mask (or use the Plan 9 From Outer Space method and have him hold a cloak over his face), Nash decides to procure a secret elixir from a man in a car park who is supposedly scary because he has longish hair and wears black. Unsurprisingly, there are side effects.

Copy picture

A film like this needs a good monster. The 'beast' that we get looks like a fire-timer's attempt at one of the goblins from The Lord Of The Rings. It barely touches its victims before their blood starts squirting everywhere; they're all very panicky and compliant, and nobody seems to think of just decking it. Sure, the film is supposed to be a comedy, but any laughs it generates are likely to be inspired by pity.

There is no underlying meaning to any of this. Apparently it's supposed to satirise Hollywood bad behaviour, but it's fundamentally too tame for that, besides which it has nothing to say that we haven't heard a thousand times before. With a couple of exceptions (Leslie Easterbrook acquits herself well and Ray Wise, in his one scene, is enjoyable as ever) the acting is atrocious. To be fair, it would take real talent to make anything out of the script, which feels like a first draft written without the advantage of talent after days without sleep. The whole thing feels rushed, assembled from too few takes, and although the plot just about hangs together there's a distinct lack of energy or character to it.

Surprisingly, Beast Mode's directors have a fair few films to their names. They still seem to be stuck in beginner mode. Watching this is a miserable experience.

Reviewed on: 24 Nov 2020
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Beast Mode packshot
An actor lets fame get to his head and turns into a ferocious beast, ripping Hollywood to shreds.

Director: Chris W Freeman, Spain Willingham

Writer: Drew Fortune, Chris W Freeman

Starring: C Thomas Howell, Leslie Easterbrook, James Hong, Ray Wise, James Duval

Year: 2020

Runtime: 77 minutes

Country: US

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