“Because inside me is a beast that snarls, and growls and strains toward freedom…. and as hard as I try, I cannot kill it.” (Veronica Roth)
“Beast” is a deliciously twisted, slightly diabolical film, that tantalizes and terrorizes simultaneously; the barren, unfriendly landscape of Jersey is home to troubled “Moll” (steaming, seething performance by Jessie Buckley), twenty-seven, living at home with a dominating, smothering mother “Hillary” (refined, Geraldine James); her dark side, simmering dangerously close to the surface, Moll’s volcanic temperament is unleashed by “Pascal” (Johnny Flynn’s percolating presence is perfect in the role), dangerously charismatic, recognizing Moll’s claustrophobic binds, sets in motion her unshackling.
Never predictable, writer/director Michael Pearce’s film keeps audiences cunningly off balance for its entirety; there is a serial killer roaming and murdering young women, a beast of prey. Unnerving is the process, emotional and intellectual, Pearce employs to ferret out the identity of the mendicant. Subtleties are spell-binding and perpetually question the true nature of a beast, can decency be concocted with evil? Can the beast, in which all humanity share, be tamed or in Roth’s words ever be annihilated?
“Beast” is satisfyingly troubling and wonderful.