By: Amanda Guarragi
When it comes down to creature features or monster movies, the subgenre has been flying under the radar. There have been remakes of classic monsters over and over again, but the original stories are always somehow better. In Beast, a recently widowed Dr. Nate Daniels (Idris Elba) and his two teenage daughters travel to a South African game reserve managed by Martin Battles (Kees), an old family friend and wildlife biologist. However, what begins as a journey of healing soon turns into a fearsome fight for survival when a lion, a survivor of bloodthirsty poachers, begins stalking them. Heading into the jungle with any wildlife is enough to make a tension-filled situation.
What works in monster movies is the creature design and the atmosphere that is created. Director Baltasar Kormákur made sure to create suspense out in the open jungle in the simplest way possible. The story is straightforward and the chemistry between the cast is what carried the movie. Some may think that because of the simple approach that it takes away from the anticipation of the next surprise, but it doesn’t. You are sucked into the location with Elba and his daughters. You also feel helpless and there is no other way to escape the clutches of this lion. There were pieces of dialogue that were planted to make you understand why the lions feel threatened and why one of them finally snapped because of the poachers. There is a hierarchy out there and once the boundary has been crossed it is fair game.
The pacing of the movie was strong because it wasn’t overstuffed with excess. Nate Daniels had a strained relationship with his daughters, and this trip was going to help change that. The dynamic between the three of them made their bond even stronger as the movie went on, especially encountering the lion out in the open. They all went full survival mode and that’s what made the movie so engaging. The camerawork by Kormákur placed you in the situation with them. The constant movement of the camera and the way he forced the viewer to look ahead worked for the suspense.
Beast is a thrilling action movie with a simple story that delivers suspense. The action scenes will have you gripping your seat because of how realistic the lion looks. There are moments where the lion is right in your face because of the camera placement, which is terrifying. Whatever role Idris Elba takes on he just exudes this natural cool swagger and is one of the calmest people in this movie. The third act does come together nicely once you realize what territory means in wildlife and how brutal lions can be to protect their pack. The make-up and special effects deliver brutal injuries and you can feel how bad the attack is. The simplicity of the story allows the viewer to get stuck in the situation with the characters instead of focusing on the story, and that’s why it works in this case.