01st Feb2021

‘Beast Mode’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: C. Thomas Howell, James Duval, Leslie Easterbrook, Robert Costanzo, James Hong, Douglas Bennett, Daz Crawford, Ray Wise, Constance Brenneman, Carrie Finklea, Teddy Margas, Allana Matheis, Suzanne Quast | Written by Chris W. Freeman, Spain Willingham, Drew Fortune | Directed by Chris W. Freeman, Spain Willingham

When Breen Nash (Howell) accidentally kills his only client and meal ticket, he turns to an ancient herbal extract with the hope that it will resurrect both his client and his career, but soon learns this elixir brings out the worst in those who imbibe… turning them into bloodthirsty, shape-shifting beasts! Leaving Breen no recourse but to stop the creatures himself before his own inner beast consumes him.

Less of a horror film and more of a diatribe on the horrors of Hollywood, Beast Mode is a fun, funny, horror comedy that is not afraid to poke fun at the Hollywood system – from filmmakers to financing and everything inbetween – and even itself. For a “horror” film theres, honestly, not that much horror. Aside from a rather creepy opening that explains the origins of the herbal extract Beast Mode is instead packed with laughs – in fact it has more in common with the likes Weekend at Bernies, with its dead actor cover-up, than it does any other horror movie.

And that’s the thing, Beast Mode is billed an as 80s-throwback, the kind of off-the-wall mix of comedy and horror that gave us the likes of Return of the Living Dead and Fright Night. But it cannot, sadly, measure up to those films – especially given the lack of budget. But what it can do is be a satirical take on the system of filmmaking, reflecting the monsters created by the herbal extract in the faces of the monsters that WORK in Hollywood. The filmmakers portrayed here are as ruthless and single-minded as the beasts created by the extract… some even moreso!

Unfortunately Beast Mode leans a little too heavily into the laughs, never quite getting the balance right, which almost takes this film into parody. However where Beast Mode succeeds is not in the horror, not in the comedy, but in the way it captures the zeitgeist of the likes of the #metoo movement and the cancel culture nature of society. Here the monsters, the filmmakers of Hollywood who are cutthroat and ruthless in their pursuit of their next project, are literally judged (or “cancelled” even) by the herbal extract – becoming the physical embodiment of their monstrous behaviour; the monster on the inside manifesting on the outside, in the ultimate “be careful what you wish for” come “Hollywood is evil” story.

Beast Mode is out now on VOD.

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