The Night Of The Beast


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The Night Of The Beast
"There's a magic about this particular night, something in their air, and you don't have to be a metaller yourself to feel it."

There are some experiences in life which are almost universal. No matter where in the world you live, the chances are that there is music you feel passionate about, and that when you were (or if you are) a young teenager, few things could compare the prospect of seeing your favourite performers live.

Chuki (Esteban Galindo) and Vargas (Daniel Esteban Reyes) live in Bogotá, Colombia, and their great consuming passion in life is heavy metal. If there's one band which fits their ideal more than any other, it's Iron Maiden, so when the band is scheduled to play their home town, they leap at the chance to get tickets, skipping school and spending a whole day getting more and more excited. When they are mugged by older youths and the precious tickets stolen, one's heart bleeds for them, but these two indomitable spirits soon bounce back, determined that somehow they will still achieve their goal, or get as close to it as possible.

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Consumed by their singular passion, the boys are apt to overlook other matters in their lives. Vargas almost gets in real trouble by ignoring his girlfriend until she takes it upon herself to pursue him and remind him she exists. He's more deliberately distant from his alcoholic father, recognising his inability to save him, but they do share a musical bond. Chuki also lives in a single parent household with a mother who works as a nurse and seems to be just about at the end of her tether. He has no interest in being the good Catholic boy she wants but it saddens him to see her crying sometimes, and it seems that he habitually deals with it by escaping to visit an elderly neighbour with dementia who is hap to spoil him as a means of getting company. The kids are insulated by their love of metal from the suffering around them, allowing them a joy and spontaneity which, in turn, buoys up others.

With two highly engaging central performances (Galindo the standout), this is a film which perfectly captures the rush of life coming straight at one during those formative years. The energy of its characters sometimes extends into the form of the film itself, with animated scribbles enlivening aspects of the boys' surroundings. Everything feels natural and immediate even when plans fall through and they are faced with long periods of drifting around or waiting. There's a magic about this particular night, something in their air, and you don't have to be a metaller yourself to feel it.

A beautifully observed depiction of a moment in time when anything seems possible, The Night Of The Beast mingles the playfully violent imagery of metal with the warmth and deep love that comes from friendship and family. Mixing in snippets from the real night when this historic gig took place, it positions its heroes as fictional characters striving to break through into the documentary world even as they strain against the bonds of youth to break into the adult world. Neither is necessary. Any viewer engaging with this gem will be taking away something real.

Reviewed on: 03 Jun 2021
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Iron Maiden, Bogota, 1980. A dream come true for two young metalheads who are determined to see the band.

Director: Mauricio Leiva-Cock

Writer: Benjamín Figueroa García, Mauricio Leiva-Cock

Starring: Esteban Galindo, Daniel Esteban Reyes

Year: 2020

Runtime: 70 minutes

Country: Colombia, Mexico


Cheltenham 2021

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