In 1983, the Stephen King thriller “Cujo” was a cult classic putting a mother and her son trapped inside a hot car struggling to protect themselves from a rabid St. Bernard. The film was part of a series of older movies that presented a more innovative take on the man versus beast-themed horror movie.
When you consider that “Cujo” was a horror film about survival from a wild animal then you can make the case that “Beast” is just “Cujo” with a lion.
It’s been a hit-or-miss year in the world of horror films in 2022, you have even gotten some of the best horror films of the year such as “The Black Phone” and “The Witch Part 2 The Other One” or you have gotten certified garbage such as “They/Them” and “Scream.” There has been no in-between.
Believe it or not, Universal Pictures has been the most successful studio in terms of the box office this year. Their latest story is the tale of a father and his two daughters traveling all the way to South Africa for a vacation.
“Beast” is a film about Dr. Nate Samuels (Idris Elba) and his two teen-aged daughters, Meredith (Iyana Halley) and Norah (Leah Sava). The family arrives in South Africa to reunite with an old friend, Martin Battles (Sharlto Copley) takes them to the village where Nate’s wife grew up. Nate is hoping to confide in his guilt over being distant while his wife was battling Cancer.
The trio takes an exclusive tour of the reserve’s restricted areas and they see a local pride of lions and notice that one is injured. Fearing that poachers are nearby, they retreat to a local community to discover most of the population is dead. Martin suspects that a lion is responsible for the attacks and rushes back to report the finding. On their way back, Martin is attacked by a lion which then proceeds to hunt Nate and his daughters who are trapped in the jeep. With no one available to save them, the group is forced to survive a hostile environment with limited resources and a pissed-off lion on their backs.
If you watch shows such as the Netflix Resident Evil series, you would know that Hollywood has a serious protagonist problem. The recent trend of creating characters who are not appealing to audiences, but are presented to be the most likable characters in the film. If your protagonist is unlikable, your film will fall apart at the seams.
The movie “Beast” is no different, Meredith and Nora ride the lines of character-induced stupidity throughout the entire film. The two characters put themselves in danger in the defiance of the adults while picking the worst possible times to air personal grievances. At one point, Meredith besides the air out her father for not keeping to his promises well they’re actively being hunted down by a dangerous predator.
Stunts like this do not make the characters redeemable in the eyes of audiences. Presenting characters in this fashion only makes the audience want to see them get theirs in the end, and they only feel more robbed when it doesn’t happen. The film would have been proved if those two characters meshed in the one trimming the fat on useless characters.
The conflict of the film is pretty straightforward: you have a pissed-off and vengeful lion on the hunt for all Humans after poachers kill off his entire Pride. No amount of tranquilizer darts and fiery explosions are going to stop this thing from its mission. “Beast” is a solid man vs prey movie within the bubble of Survivor thrillers, however, some might have reservations about the film’s ending which involves making the character go one-on-one with a lion in a fashion that would not fare well for him in real life.
Beast isn’t exactly the next Jaws, but the film is solid when it sticks to the confines of the story, outside of that there are many aspects that need improvement.