Beast Mode Movie Review: A Campy Horror Satire - Comic Years
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Beast Mode Movie Review: A Campy Horror Satire

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BY December 2, 2020

The idea that Hollywood is full of monsters is not breaking news. After all, you only have to look as far as the actual news. And there have been movies about these monsters before, like 1994’s Swimming with Sharks. But despite their awful behavior, these are just metaphorical monsters. The new movie Beast Mode looks at a Hollywood with real monsters.

In the Heart of the Beast: What It’s All About

beast mode movie image via Devilworks Pictures

Filmmaker Breen Nash (C. Thomas Howell) has a big problem. Thanks to Pish (James Hong), he’s secured financing for his latest flick, a sure-to-be arthouse classic called Beast Moon. The problem, though, is the movie’s supposed to star Hollywood bad boy Huckle Saxton (James Duval). Huckle is a nightmare, spoiled and rotten, but that’s not the issue. The problem is that Breen’s just accidentally backed over Huckle.

Now you might be thinking, just get another actor–guys like Huckle are a dime a dozen. While it’s true that probably any goof out of central casting could play the lead in Beast Moon, the money and power behind the movie don’t want any goof. They want only Huckle.

Luckily, Breen finds Michael, a sweet-natured fellow who looks exactly like Huckle. (That’s because Duval is playing him, too.) However, he’s got imperfect skin. I know–the HORROR. What can you do? Get him a facial? A subscription order of Good Genes? Don’t be ridiculous.

Obviously, the only solution here is to pick up a mysterious balm from an unsettling man (Douglas Bennett) in a parking lot and then slap it on Michael’s face. What could go wrong?

Well, as we know from the opening sequence, a lot. This special lotion may make you beautiful, but if you’re ugly inside, that’ll show, too.

Beast Mode Movie Review

After that opening sequence, which is played straight, you could think the rest of the movie follows in that vein. That’s an incorrect assumption, though, because this is a horror comedy that’s much lighter on the horror than the comedy. For most of its run, it plays more as a satire of Hollywood and its conventions.

Whether you go in for that will likely dictate your enjoyment. So if you like when Hollywood pokes fun at itself, then you’ll probably have a good time. That’s also true if you just like stupid comedy. I, for one, love stupid shit. And when the silliness culminates in a final sequence with the cops that had me muttering, “So stupid,” that was not an insult. It was so stupid, but I still liked it.

beast mode movie image via Devilworks Pictures

Beyond that, there’s some interesting effects work in the movie. I particularly liked the beast look. Both it and the magic behind that lotion’s work reminded me of some classic Twilight Zone episodes, always a good bet. Specifically, they reminded me most of “The Masks,” in which a dying man leaves one provision in his will. If his awful relatives want his fortune, then they have to spend the night wearing–you guessed it–the masks. 56-year-old spoiler alert: The masks don’t come off at the end of the night, because that’s who they really are.

And that’s how the lotion functions. If there’s something base in your heart, as former Hollywood heavyweight turned recluse Trammel Steadfast (Ray Wise) says, then the lotion will find it. That then provides a curious dilemma regarding Michael. He’s awed and humble when they find him. However, the more time he spends in Huckle’s world, the more it changes him. Will he succumb to the deleterious effects of the lotion or will something worse–a Hollywood attitude–get him first? It’s amusing to watch, and Duval plays both parts well. But again, this is no stiff Hollywood biopic. This is, at heart, a gross-out comedy in the bones of a horror movie. And I thought it was pretty fun. Here’s the trailer, though, so you can see for yourself.

The movie Beast Mode is now available on demand on services like Vudu and on DVD. Let us know what you think in the comments or on our social media.

featured image via Devilworks Pictures

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Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at salome@comicyears.com.

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