Review: 'Beast Mode' (2020) Dirs. Chris W. Freeman & Spain Willingham
Horror comes to Hollywood with a mix of dark black magic horror and satirical comedy that doesn't outstay it's welcome and fronted by a solid cast...
Inept Hollywood film producer Breen Nash (Howell) is out working on his new project 'Beast Moon', but has a bad reputation due to some less-than-favourable movies to his name.
Actor Huckle Saxon (Duval) is the Hollywood talent in front of the camera, but he too is also gaining a tarnished reputation due to his unreliability, his excessive Hollywood lifestyle and general lack of respect for Nash.
But when a tragic accident forces Saxon off the project, Nash resorts to ancient tricks and voodoo to help save his film. However, Nash isn't prepared for the horrific creatures that will arise due to his dabbling in the black arts...
A twisted and tongue-in-cheek look at the seedy side of Hollywood lead by desperate, loner producer C. Thomas Howell as Breen Nash. Not just Howell, but a host of stars including Leslier Easterbrook, James Hong, Robert Costanzo and the ever eclectic James Duval. We have everyone here who populates the Hollywood sidewalks including private detectives, washed-out actors and asshole studio executives, all who are brought to life in an amusing, not so over-the-top way.
It's funny, but the focus of these marketing as a horror doesn't really come to play until the final act of the short 85min run time. The crux of the film revolves around a comedic narrative that takes influence from 'Bowfinger' having to deal with a dead star (the most photographed in the industry no less) and how to pass off a less than convincing doppelganger as the man himself. This is where Duval shines in his dual role.
It's a small scale comedy that is happy to poke fun at the genre it's working with, all with tongue-in-cheek performances to go with.
Leslie Easterbook of 'Police Academy' fame is wonderful as Zelda Zine, the "dahhhling" cosmetic surgeon to all of Hollywood who helps Howell in his quest to fix Duval up for the public. It's just a shame that the cream used to on Duval is actually a voodoo fused blend that brings out that darkest creature in all come into contact with it.
And so with a neat display of grizzly gore, questionable CGI and practical make-up, the comedy veers into pockets of B-movie horror with beasts roaming the night hunting for prey and a mysterious hunter chasing them down to end their reign. All this back and forth with the sun-kissed story of making Duvall a Hollywood A-lister and watching Howell having a slow nervous breakdown as the body count stacks up and his production is put more and more at risk.
Directors Freeman and Willingham are out to have fun with the genre and their actors, and it's clear nothing is taken too seriously, but it packs enough of an amusing B-movie horror fest feel when it gets going, especially down to the final act where it's full on 80s style horror beast mode!
A daft and low-budget horror/satire. 'Beast Mode' never takes itself too seriously and knows exactly where to aim for the B-movie gore and humour it wants to deliver.
'Beast Mode' is a co-production between Brickyard Films, Citicine Productions & UP & AWAY Productions