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Beast Review - Haunting, A Thrilling Murder Mystery

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Beast, from British Film Fund and Roadside Attractions, presents a haunting, murder mystery, that brings together two lost souls, each fighting personal demons, a devastated community, police, and each other that culminates with a shocking, resonating ending.

Directed and written by Michael Pearce, Beast stars Jessie Buckley, Johnny Flynn, Geraldine James, Trystan Gravelle, Shannon Tarbet, Emily Taaffe, Hattie Gotobed, Charley Palmer Rothwell, Olwen Fouere, Tim Woodward, Oliver Maltman and Barry Aird.

Beast opens with an ensemble group of local singers practicing for an unknown event, after they have finished what sounded perfect, the choir director, Hilary, played by Geraldine James, points to Moll, played by Jessie Buckley, singling her out telling her she needs more.


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The next scene cuts to Moll’s home, where not surprising her mother, Hilary, is preparing for a family event. Her sister, Polly, played by Shannon Tarbet, her brother, Clifford, played by Trystan Gravelle, and his daughter Jade, played by Hattie Gotobed, the local detective, Harrison, played by Oliver Maltman are at the home celebrating Moll’s 18th birthday when Polly announces she and her husband are expecting twins. Of course, she would steal the spotlight, once again, from Moll, who has always been the difficult child, never meeting the impossible expectations of her mother.

Moll, we see as she breaks a glass, has self-injury issues and squeezes a shard of glass until she bleeds. Feeling second best at her own party she takes off and heads down to the club at the beach, where she dances and drinks the night away with a stranger. The next morning as they both are walking along the cliffs, he gets a bit aggressive over her protestations and as he attempts to continue beyond her limits he is hit by a some sort of rubber bullet.

Which is when we meet Pascal Renouf, played by Johnny Flynn. Standing, thirty yards from them with a shotgun raised he tells him to leave. Moll, who has never had anyone stand up for her, is somewhat taken aback by this stranger who intervened.

Driving her home, she asks him why there is blood on his hands, he explains he was out hunting and uncovers a basket of dead rabbits. They turn the corner and police are stopping the few vehicles that travel the beach road, and other than a warning for seatbelt violation, the copper sees nothing wrong and lets them go on their way.

The attraction between the two is not difficult to understand once each begin to explain their histories, his parents died young; he was left to fend on his own; her parents were so distant and she the third child, to her they were dead and she was left to fight past the shadows of her far more perfect brother and sister. The two are the same.

At home, the news is grim, the Island’s serial killer has struck again. A fourth girl has been abducted from her home, pulled from her bed in the middle of the night. With three previous murders, even as the parents plead for her return and any information, the outcome is a foregone conclusion.

After the murder, which is the fourth in less than a year and clearly a serial pattern has developed, Moll, whose family is well off and well known, was approached on an official capacity by Harrison, who has personal feelings for her and has made them known, for questioning as the fourth abduction took place the night of her birthday party.

Moll who refuses to believe the killer tells Harrison Pascale was with her the entire night and therefore cannot be responsible.

This is where the film becomes a thrilling mystery as the body is found, and the killer eludes the police, with the same stealth ability as in the previous three murders leading to a shocking, haunting, conclusion.

I really enjoyed this film. It toys with the viewers as the intensity of finding the murderer narrows as the townspeople are sure of the killer’s identity. The devotion of the young lovers is tested by the unfolding circumstances and the dark history’s that they both carry.

In some film the location is simply a need, films has to be made somewhere, in Beast the location takes on a life of its own. The cinematography is especially noted as Moll is a tour guide bringing to life the islands history to tourists that flock to the region. The location is stunning, with breathtaking sea cliffs with sharp vertical drops, deep rich earth, thick green forests and beautiful beaches.

The ensemble cast embodies the hysteria, concern, fright and fear that escalate into a frenzy as the serial killer appears to fade once again. The family dynamics, from the overbearing, strict and uncompromising mother, to each of the daughters, one perfect, the shiny apple of everyone’s eye and the tarnished, troubled second daughter, and her equally secretive lover.


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Beast is a classic whodunit, where the obvious isn’t reality and reality isn’t obvious. A white knuckle ride Beast will have you guessing right up to the end and even after.

Not to be missed, Beast opens May 11, 2018. See this film.

 

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