Beast Within has the potential to be a better film if there were more budget and more length to it. But enjoy it for what it is: a horror romp with decent writing and effects.
First things first: this is not a review of the 1982 insect-man horror film, but a new and very different film with a similar name. Beast Within is about a different kind of monster altogether, and much lighter weight fare too.
A wealthy entrepreneur is celebrating the fruits of his investment – and his team’s efforts – with a party on the night that their new werewolf-themed game is to be launched. Beast Within takes place during that party, when a crazy gatecrasher’s warning is followed by a bloody death, and another bloody death. Is someone mad enough to carry out the game’s events for real, or is there an actual werewolf in the surrounding woods?
I rewatched the classic The House on Haunted Hill last week and Beast Within has a very similar format: mysterious events cause mistrust amongst partygoers who already have a mixture of feelings and histories. There is a whodunit mystery to be solved, and there are conflicting feelings towards whether the supernatural could be involved. The model works, and Beast Within is given a colorful tone; not comedic so much as adventurous. There is blood, there are fangs, there are chases, screams, and guns: excellent.
Beast Within was directed by Chris Green and Steven Morana, who also plays the lead, August. August is not naturally outgoing, but he is expected to be the face of the new game release and finds himself leading a hunt for whoever is attacking his friends and colleagues too. The film’s budget is low, and the acting somewhat unambitious, but it is perfectly suited to a romp like this. What starts out as uncomfortable group dynamics, soap-opera style (internet stalker, vengeful ex-girlfriend, etc.) becomes entertaining and surprising, despite the somewhat familiar formula. Other cast included Colm Feore (Reginald Hargreeves from The Umbrella Academy), Holly Deveaux (Future Man, The Mist), and Art Hindle (Porky’s, Black Christmas).
The special effects – both gore and monster – are impressive, especially for a low-budget indie production. Although the plot is kind of hasty, squeezed into a scant eighty minutes, the dialogue has plenty to offer too: there is an interesting exploration of what authority someone has over how a potential partner earns a living, and a philosophical deep dive into the requirement for murder to have a motive. Really! That film length is more of an obstacle to Beast Within’s success than the low budget. If there had been an extra twenty minutes available, some of the writing could have been given more meat, and the characters a little more arc. It’s a good watch, though, something to pass an evening with a beer in your hand and a dog in your lap.
Alix has been writing for Ready Steady Cut since November 2017. They cover a wide variety, including genre festivals, and especially appreciates wit and representation on screen.