Starring C. Thomas Howell, James Duval, and Leslie Easterbrook
Written by Drew Fortune, Chris W. Freeman, and Spain Willingham
Directed by Chris W. Freeman and Spain Willingham
In the annals of film history, there have been many horror-comedies that resort to meta mode. Movies such as Scott Glosserman’s Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, Drew Goddard’s The Cabin in the Woods, and Jermaine Clement and Taika Watiti’s What We Do in the Shadows are but a few. Amongst the morass of meta, another one walks among us with Devilworks and Brickyard Films latest sendoff Beast Mode.
B-movie director Breen Nash (C. Thomas Howell) off of his latest flop, Gods of Pluto is desperately trying to helm his next movie, Beast Moon. In order to get this film off of the ground, he needs to get his big star and serious bad boy Huckle Saxton (James Duval). When a vehicular accident in the studio parking lot puts Breen’s film and Huckle on life support, Breen and his assistant Muffy Myers (Carrie Finklea) stumble across Huckle’s doppelganger (also played by James Duval) and attempt to pass him off as the original article. Riddled with facial scars, Breen consults with his makeup guru Zelda Zine (Leslie Easterbrook) to find a way to cover up the doppelganger’s scars. Zelda tells Breen that there is a miracle skin cream that smooths out any skin condition. Purchased from an eerie merchant and unaware of its history, the cream is applied on the scars and the treatment is a success, but it comes with a downside: Whatever resides in a person’s inside, arrives on the outside which, if bad, arrives in the form of a beast hungry for human blood. Bullied by producer Scram Puttoff (Daz Crawford) and the mass of carnage created by Huckle’s doppelganger, Breen desperately tries to keep the film and himself together as chaos reigns all around him.
Written by the trio of Drew Fortune, Chris W. Freeman, and Spain Willingham and directed by Freeman and Willingham, the story crafts an extreme b-movie feel which meshes well with its visual product. There are good moments of gory horror mixed with campy comedy but there are some scenarios that could have used more thought. An example of this would be when the beast that is Huckle’s doppelganger proclaims that he is going to eat Breen. When Breen is prostrate on the ground ready to be feasted upon, the beast’s retreat to eat another is all the more puzzling.
Cinematographer Matt Ryan works in perfect conjunction with Freeman and Willingham in creating the plastic façade of the movie business and the dark and foreboding nights where the human-beast transformations come to life.
C. Thomas Howell is terrific as the beleaguered b-movie director who does his best to keep his production together despite the self-inflicted, external forces that threaten to tear it apart. Daz Crawford is fantastic as the volatile and unpredictable producer that chews up the scenery at every turn. Ray Wise is an incredible treat as Trammell Steadfast, the paranoid makeup man who provides insight into the mysterious cream. The actor who stands out in the film is James Duval in his dual role as bad boy Huckle Saxton and his nerdy doppelganger. The disparity between the two characters is exceptional and he shines in both of the roles. Despite some of its minor shortcomings, this movie is superbly acted and a ton of fun. If a film within a film with some horror and comedy generously sprinkled throughout is your bag, then tune in to this furious, frightening and, at times, farcical film.
An extreme b-movie feel meshes well with its visual product. There are good moments of gory horror mixed with campy comedy throughout.