When I reviewed writer/director Jonathan Holbrook’s previous film THE TALL MEN one of the things I mentioned was it felt long at 133 minutes. So imagine my reaction when I put his latest film on. BELOVED BEAST runs 173 minutes, just a hair under three hours. Along with a poster that evoked memories of BUNNYMAN and PETER ROTTENTAIL I had some doubts as I hit play. I shouldn’t have worried.
Nina (Sanae Loutsis, THE LAST SLAY RIDE) is a young girl whose parents are killed in a car accident. She’s sent to live with her aunt Erma (Joy Yaholkovsky) who may not have her best interests at heart. She also has ties to some very bad people. At about the same time a dangerous mental patient makes a bloody escape from the local hospital. Nina ends up befriending him, but will he prove a bigger danger than her aunt’s friends?
BELOVED BEAST is a mix of several things, a Lynchian small-town mystery along the lines of TWIN PEAKS and BLUE VELVET. A modern, edgy crime film and, a slasher film. With a touch of Steinbeck’s OF MICE AND MEN added for good measure. Thankfully the elements manage to contrast each other rather than outright clash. They highlight and intensify each other rather than turning into a mess.
Given the mix of elements and plot threads in BELOVED BEAST it easily could have turned into a mess. Credit Holbrook with holding it all together. And especially with resisting the temptation to go over the top with some of the film’s more exploitative elements. With a plot involving human trafficking, human sacrifice and snuff films it would be easy to do. Some will complain the plot spends to much time setting up. But it does stay interesting as all the pieces are put in place. It could have probably trimmed 10 or 15 minutes but it’s surprisingly tight and engrossing for its length.
As long as you’re good with the film’s length and understand what you’re getting isn’t a normal horror film BELOVED BEAST that should satisfy those willing to give it a chance. The film will have a few premier shows before hitting the festival circuit. You can keep up to date on it via its Facebook page and the Chronicle Factory website.