COLUMN: Film “Beast” is intense, but repetitive

Drew Coffey, Columnist

“Beast” is a fun and intense film despite a repetitive story. Imagine an alternate universe where the 1983 film “Cujo” exists but with a territorial lion replacing the infected blood thirsty dog while taking place in the South African safari.

Regardless of these cinematic differences, a couple of things remain the same, decent thrills and questionable character decisions.

Baltasar Kormákur’s “Beast” sees Nate Samuels as a recently widowed father of two daughters. He hopes to start a chapter of healing by taking a trip to South Africa. However, while on a tour of the African safari, a dangerous and vicious lion attacks the family leading them to have to come together for their own survival.

The film uses the scenery of South Africa in beautiful ways establishing the variety and nature of the wildlife. The cinematography of the film is also very notable as it utilizes the camera style of continuously using one shot without noticeable cuts as seen in films such as “1917”.

This helps the viewer really feel like they are in the dire situation of the family while showing the environment around the characters, allowing us to only guess where the murderous lion will pounce from next.

The visual effects of the lions are also fairly impressive for this film. As action scenes are so quick and urgent, the movements and tiny details in the facial features of the antagonistic animal are especially impressive.

This film is also appropriate in its runtime. It holds your attention, keeps you entertained with suspenseful and exciting scenes, then ends in a way that feels partially satisfying. “Partially” is the word I use as the ending of this film feels rushed and slightly unfulfilling.

The events of the film lead the family to temporary refuge before the lion once again finds them. Once the lion attacks them again, Nate commences in a fight to the death with the lion as advertised in most of the marketing for the film.

However, the ending fight needs more build up in terms of suspense and showing Nate’s courage when it comes to protecting his family. While the fight itself is impressive from a visual perspective, it feels like it was cut short.

Idris Elba, who plays Nate, gives a very thrilling performance and is believable as a scared but strongwilled father. He works well with the young actresses who play his scared daughters: Iyana Halley and Leah Jeffries.

The decisions of the daughters are where the film can become slightly irritating. There are many scenes with dialogue that do not fit the situation but are used to forcefully tell the audience essential information rather than organically showing us.

The explanation of the mother’s death is good example where one daughter spills out information so randomly and awkwardly that it
feels like the audience is getting spoon-fed information.

With this being said, “Beast” acts as a fun, exciting, and suspenseful survival film that captures the viewers’ attention despite having a derivative plot.

Overall rating: 3/5

Drew Coffey is a sophmore television/video production major. He can be reached at 217-581-2812 or at [email protected].