A troubled woman living in an isolated community finds herself pulled between the control of her oppressive family and the allure of a secretive outsider suspected of a series of brutal murders.



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Credited cast:
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A troubled woman living in an isolated community finds herself pulled between the control of her oppressive family and the allure of a secretive outsider suspected of a series of brutal murders.

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9 September 2017 (Canada)  »

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Animal Shadows  »

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Written by Danny O'loughlin
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Too long, unoriginal - but saved by the acting and, strangely, the make-up
11 October 2017 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

It is not good for a film when the viewer is squirming in his seat waiting for it to end. But that, sadly, is the case with 'Beast', for writer/director Michael Pearce did not realise when enough is enough. On three or four occasions, just as the film reaches what seems like a natural conclusion, on it lurches for another few scenes to the next false stop.

It does not help matters that neither the plot nor the characters are original (this in itself need not be a sin, but when a film seems so much longer than its sub-two hours running time it is another point against it). Moll (Jessie Buckley) is the down-trodden daughter of a brittle mother who clearly thinks less of Moll than of her other daughter (who upstages Moll at her birthday party by announcing her own pregnancy with twins) and her son (who expects Moll to baby-sit his teenaged daughter while he goes out on the pull). The main male character is Pascal (Johnny Flynn): maverick, son of the soil, poacher, loner... of *course* Moll is going to fall for him. But hang about: there is a murderer on the loose, who rapes and kills young girls. Could it be... possibly... the case that Pascal is somehow involved? And what about the Shameful Secret from Moll's past: how will that effect her judgement? One by one the cliché plot devices roll out: Moll lies to the police about Pascal's whereabouts when a further murder occurs; she has violent flashbacks relating to her Shameful Secret; Pascal turns up to a posh family gathering and gets thrown out for wearing jeans; when he is hauled in for questionning the community unthinkingly turn against him; and so on and so forth.

However, there are two major plus points: the first is the acting, which is good. Leading lady Buckley (channelling Honeysuckle Weeks) expertly pulls on the viewer's heartstrings as Moll seeks freedom in the arms of one who may ultimately treat her worse than her family do. The script gives Flynn less scope to add depth to his character, but he does what he can. Geraldine James is fun as Moll's mother, and there's a very good single-scene cameo from Olwen Fouéré as a police detective.

The second plus point is the make-up: this is not the sort of film that demands rubber prosthetics for aliens or similar, but Flynn's skin is coloured to look appropriately weather-beaten and the injuries resulting from a car-crash are wince-inducing without being overly gory. Nice job.

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