13 January 2005 | fertilecelluloid
"entertainment" has many faces
There's plenty to like in Dennis Yu's vicious little shocker. You can cite many references (DELIVERANCE being one), but my guess is Wes Craven's THE HILLS HAVE EYES influenced Yu most.
I love stuff like this -- the nastier the better. I'm not apt to whine if the film rolls around in its own filth like a fat, bloated pig. I'm not prone to taking issue with gloriously violent, misogynistic behavior if the only reason given for it is the inherent badness of the characters.
"Entertainment" has many faces, and the face of this putrid piece of vile celluloid is slashed with a sh*t-eating grin.
In THE HILLS HAVE EYES, Craven used the deformed Michael Berryman as the face of savagery. In THE BEAST, Yu casts an equally disturbing, ugly, toothless actor who grunts and screams and lashes out at every obstacle like a venomous snake. He perfectly embodies Yu's vile little world.
A small party of men and cute women are attacked by some local miscreants ("beasts"). One of the women is brutally raped and the police are called. The miscreants, referred to as "disco boys" by one observer, are rounded up by the inept cops, but the cops fail to make a case against them. A local man, upset that justice has not been served, decides to exact his own (in deep scarlet)
Although some of the film's scenes of graphic violence are a little sloppy, there are enough cinematic atrocities on parade to forgive Wu his occasional aesthetic misstep.
Again mirroring HILLS, two ferocious dogs make an appearance in THE BEASTS -- this time, however, they're on the side of "evil".
The atmosphere of sleaze and dread is well maintained and encouraged by Yu. The climax, taking place during a vicious rainstorm (at night) is surprisingly effective and beautifully shot by Bob Thompson.
Editing is tight and Tony Au's art direction is vivid and gloriously ugly.
A murder with a rope tossed to a drowning man is a showstopper, as is a scene where a character plunges head first into a box of rusty blades.
If you have a soft spot for the Nasty Miscreant genre, you'll find a place in your heart for THE BEASTS.