06th Aug2021

‘Beast Within’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Colm Feore, Steven Morana, Holly Deveaux, Ari Millen, Art Hindle, Bobbie Phillips, Melissa D’Agostino, Marco Timpano, Mark Andrade, Nicole Stamp, Jon Cor, Supinder Wraich | Written by Matthew Campagna, Rudy Jahchan | Directed by Chris Green, Steven Morana

[NOTE: With the film now out on DVD in the UK, here’s a reposting of our review of Beast Within from its US digital release last year]

Essentially a horror version of Knives Out (or the many Agatha Christie films which inspired it) and filmed on a low-budget, of course, Beast Within is a whodunit creature feature which stars Steven Morana (Whiskey Business) and Holly Deveaux (The Mist) as a couple attending the launch party of their gaming app Werewolves Awaken. But when a guest is mysteriously found dead, they question who could be the killer, as everyone becomes a suspect and player in a deadly real-life version of the game.

For a low-budget genre film, Beast Within has some truly fantastic effects work – from the over the top violence, blood and copious amounts of guts to the werewolf transformations and make-up effects, Beast Within‘s FX look superb. There’s just one major flaw. There’s no empathy built up for any of the characters in the film. None at all. Which means you don’t care what happens to them in the slightest. Their deaths may look cool but there’s no shock value to any of it – audiences should care when characters see, not just go “go that looked gross”. Especially when you’ve framed your horror film as a whodunnit.

Which means. Whodunnit? Don’t care. Whodunnit to? Don’t care either.

And that’s a shame, as Beast Within has a cracking cast – including Colm Feore, Art Hindle and Bobbie Phillips. All of whom have appeared in genre fare before and could, if the script gave them a chance, deliver really superb performances. Instead Hindle hams it up, almost trying to mimic Don Johnson’s performance in the aforementioned Knives Out; Colm Feore pops in for two brief, if key, appearances; and Phillips is berated in a brief scene by Hindle’s character! Why have such “star power” if you’re going to waste it? It’s not like the rest of the cast can hold a candle to them… In fact even with the briefest of appearances the well-known actors make the rest of the cat look even more amateur-hour.

Once the blood-letting starts it’s hard not to enjoy the gore-filled ride we’re taken on, even when the script falls apart and the film doesn’t make a lick of sense. Morana is at least a likeable hero, and his characters journey from timid game developer to sword-wielding werewolf slayer is fun to watch. It’s just a shame that the film has to explain what’s going on and who the characters are via Morana’s voice-over… Yes it gives Beast Within something of a hard-boiled “noir” feel, which suits the whodunnit formula but it also highlights the failings of the script.

Unfortunately, beyond some great effects, there’s nothing here to make Beast Within stand out within a crowded werewolf genre film landscape. However if you enjoy the genre then you can do a lot worse… like one of the many Howling sequels for instance!

Beast Within is out now on DVD from Danse Macabre.

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