Beast Within has a really fun concept for a B-level horror film that’s slightly undone by some dodgy performances and questionable choices.
One of the biggest is the reveal of the killer in the opening sequence. The film is set up like a murder mystery, but there’s not a ton of suspense when the killer gets immediately outed and the narrator reveals he survives the incident. Despite ruining two major spoilers there’s still some fun to be had.
A big tech millionaire celebrated the debut of his new werewolf theme video game with a massive launch party. Not everyone in attendance is thrilled with Brian‘s (Art Hindle) success as the party also has a few of his jilted lovers, rivals and Father Roman (Colm Feore, 24), who doesn’t appreciate Brian and his party celebrating on sacred ground.
Brian is happy to share the spotlight — so he can endlessly flirt with some of the partygoers — with his game’s lead designer August (Steven Morana). Morana co-directed the film with Chris Green.
August is socially awkward and isn’t a huge fan of parties or a ton of attention. He’s even apprehensive to talk to Cheyenne (Holly Deveaux), a woman he’s been chatting with on Facebook. As the launch shifts into after party mode, the guests start to realize they’re not alone on the compound as a werewolf is stalking and killing them.
Maybe the film’s biggest problem is Morana’s shaky and unconvincing performance that comes off more like he’s reading dialogue instead of naturally playing a character. Nearly every scene feels forced and he never seems to get comfortable. His performance is the weakest of the ensemble and drags every scene down. This is one of those cases where a director sees his vision, but isn’t able to properly convey it in front of the camera.
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As a whole the ensemble is split pretty evenly. Some of the performers like Deveaux, Ari Millen and Marco Timpano are very good in their roles. Other performers tend to over-emote or have flat line delivery. It reaches a point that I was rooting for certain characters to stay alive simply because they could hold their end up in their scenes.
Another weird choice is to have three characters randomly quoting scripture for no good reason. They’re poorly developed and aren’t even good caricatures.
For a horror film, the hip hop soundtrack is a poor fit and clashes with the more dramatic tone. It is a very weird stylistic choice.
Green and Morana smartly keep the werewolf largely off camera to heighten the suspense, but when it’s time for the closeup, the design holds up very well and doesn’t look like it was done on the cheap. The blood and gore is appropriate for the theme so while it’s gory it doesn’t feel like overkill. While some of the characters’ dialogue is suspect, the script sees them making smart choices instead of being simple wolf fodder.
Beast Within isn’t perfect, but its strengths overcome its flaws providing a fun horror whodunit with enough bite to be worth the investment.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Photo Credit: Stone Cutter