Beast Mode Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Devilworks
Directed by Chris W. Freeman and Spain Willingham
Written by Drew Fortune, Chris W. Freeman and Spain Willingham
2020, 87 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Released on 30th September 2020
C. Thomas Howell as Breen Nash
James Duval as Huckle Saxton
Leslie Easterbrook as Zelda Zine
Robert Costanzo as Chrome Mangle
All Hollywood producer Breen Nash wants is to get his movie made. As if the machinations of Hollywood weren’t bad enough already, Nash also has to contend with his prima donna star – has-been actor and ‘bad boy’ Huckle Saxton. After accidentally getting Saxton killed, Nash attempts to replace the actor using an ancient herb and a doppelganger. The ritual/procedure is a success, but not without its side-effects: Huckle Saxton is transformed into a bloodthirsty monster, set on tearing Hollywood a new one. And he’s not alone, either…
From Wes Craven’s New Nightmare to his Scream 3, there’s no shortage of horror films set in and about Hollywood. Add Chris W. Freeman and Spain Willingham’s tongue-in-cheek comedy horror film to the list – An American Werewolf in London (or, in this case, Hollywood) meets Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. While the humour isn’t particularly subtle (farting cops and Chinese stereotypes abounds), C. Thomas Howell puts in a fine comedic performance as the stressed-out producer. The star of The Hitcher has been absent from the genre for far too long, and it’s good to see him take a leading role here. He’s well-supported by two versions of James Duval and one Ray Wise, popping up late in the game to bring a bit of class to the proceedings.
Alas, as with many Hollywood-set genre movies, Beast Mode can feel self-indulgent and too niche for its own good. The advertised beast doesn’t show up until well into the movie’s second half. So, if you’re not on-board with the goofy humour and fart gags by then, it may not be worth waiting around for. Which is a shame, because the film’s makeup and gore effects are a lot of fun. It’s shot and performed like a well-budgeted TV movie, but with the practical effects and splatter of an 80s monster movie.
The deathly slow pace doesn’t help either – and once Saxton does finally get his beast on, there’s still far too little energy to it. Even as the film should be gearing up for complete mayhem, the characters are still sneaking around in the dark, making dumb jokes or lounging around in bed. The glorified Ray Wise cameo is appreciated, but too little, too late.
Freeman and Willingham have put together a charming lead performance with a cool monster and solid 80s-style splatter, but the film is a slapdash mess of ideas and sensibilities. While it does occasionally amuse and appall, Beast Mode is far too restrained for its own good. This one should have been let off the leash.
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