By Matt Pascarella
Runtime: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Before I go too far, this movie does deal with simulated animal cruelty and poachers play a part in the story.
When I first saw the preview for “Beast” in the theater, it was billed as a horror movie, and I didn’t find the idea of running from a lion that scary – in a movie. I judged too quickly because this is more a gripping thriller rather than a horror movie.
“Beast” stars Idris Elba, Iyana Halley, Leah Jefferies, Sharlto Copely, Naledi Mogdime and Tafara Nyatsanza.
Dr. Nate Samuels (Elba) and his daughters Norah (Jefferies) and Mare (Halley) have all experienced terrible loss when their wife and mother Amahle (Mogdime) recently passed away.
There is tension between Norah, Mare and Nate. The three are traveling to South Africa in an effort to reconnect.
They meet up with a friend of Nate and Amahle’s, Martin (Copely) and he takes them on a trip to a restricted area of a local reserve.
Martin introduces them to Banji (Nyatsanza) who will take them on a tour to see a pride of lions. Banji tells the three he has a tranquilizer gun just in case; he hopes he doesn’t have to use it.
They all stop at what appears to be a village and are advised to keep to themselves. They discover the village is not abandoned, though it’s not exactly inhabited.
They come across an injured man who has been attacked by a lion. They don’t have time to help him because the lion attacks their vehicle, almost pushing it over a cliff with Nate, Mare and Norah in it. Martin is missing and the three discover he’s been attacked.
The vehicle won’t start, and Martin tells them he’s lion bait because he’s in their territory.
The lion attacks again and traps Nate under the vehicle. A tranquilizer is used, but it doesn’t last as long as they hoped. Mare finds Martin and brings him back to the vehicle where Nate dresses his wound. Martin says the lions are doing this because of the poachers.
During the night, poachers arrive, and Nate tries to convince them to get them out of there. The poachers agree to help Nate and his family for $5,000, but once they see Martin, the deal is off.
Things escalate quickly and badly. The lion reappears and attacks many; it is now looking for Nate. The lion attacks the vehicle again and Martin makes a tough decision.
Mare is injured and Nate brings her back to an abandoned schoolhouse to fix her up. The lion is waiting.
No lions were used during the filming of this movie, it was all computer-generated images and looks pretty realistic. “Beast” is an action-packed, bloody, but not horror movie gory, fast-paced thriller with an element of family togetherness to it. While I did enjoy it, I wouldn’t say this is a ‘must-see;’ it’s pretty good though.
One camera up.
Available on Amazon Prime and to rent. <