BEAST is a Chilling Modern Gothic Indie

BEAST is a film that came out of nowhere. Releasing tomorrow, Sept 13th in Australia from Icon Films, I hadn’t heard a thing about it, checked out the trailer, and then knew I had to give up a few hours to see this grungy looking thriller. It’s a somewhat weird look at the Beauty and Beast or is it Beast and Beast tale told with a little Alice in Wonderland follow down the rabbit hole thrown in for good measure. This will be out on limited release at most art house cinemas – can’t recommend it enough. It is rated M, although leans more towards MA15+, and runs for 107mins.


BEAST Jessie Buckley image
Jessie Buckley




Moll (Jessie Buckley) feels suffocated by her oppressive family and the small island community in which she lives. When she meets mysterious outsider Pascal (Johnny Flynn), she finally experiences a taste of freedom and adventure. Their passionate affair is threatened when Pascal becomes a suspect in a string of brutal murders. Having risked all to stand by her lover, Moll begins to question his integrity and discovers what she is really capable of. Inspired by real-life events, BEAST is a genuinely sexy thriller that will keep you guessing until the very end.


BEAST Johnny Flynn image
Johnny Flynn



BEAST is just fantastic, a modern grungy gothic tale that echoes Beauty and The Beast where Moll is also Alice jumping down the rabbit hole, or is it more Dorothy who kills witches and ruins Oz? Regardless, this powerhouse performance movie is a sexual dramatic thriller more inline with European crime shows than anything out of Hollywood. It succeeds because of a truly wonderful and tightly written screenplay that is matched by standout performances and chemistry from the leads. On top of this it is a dark delve into the psyche and has some characters mostly to mess with your mind that you can imagine come from this isolated island.


The cinematography from Benjamin Kracun and art direction by Thalia Ecclestone adds to the isolation and claustrophobic nature of the island, this further amplifies the tension and eeriness of the story which give us BEAST’s gothic tones. It comes across as beautiful and terrifying in one. It’s an almost primal and haunted location. Can anyone truly escape the island of Jersey? The director, Michael Pearce, previously lived in Jersey and this movie is loosely based on a real life person dubbed The Beast of Jersey who terrorized the island of Jersey in the 1960s and 1970s. And while we are on Michael Pearce, this is his feature directorial debut and it’s a standout applause-worthy movie, huge bravo to that!

Most of the movie it’s a whodunnit with plenty of red herrings in there to mess with you. But BEAST is in no way a standard whodunnit, there is plenty of twists and turns that will keep you guessing up to the final scenes but I never felt cliches until the last scene.

Moll is an enigma, a woman desperate to leave her surroundings who is choked of life by her family and mostly her mother, think Nurse Ratched for your mother and you have nailed her. Moll is borderline sanity wise but also completely understandable, she is different from everyone around her and they don’t like her difference and want her emotionally beaten to the point of being like them. Pascal is her out, he is unique like her, he is someone that pays her endless attention and he is a person that Moll can use to piss off her entire family – he is the golden ticket. Downside is he may just be a serial killer.


The one thing that annoyed me and my viewing partner was the ending. It could have ended 15min earlier and been satisfactory or ended with the ending they settled on and skipped the first ending. It doesn’t ruin the movie and I do love the ending but it lends itself to a bit of cliche and this was something the entire movie had been against.


BEAST Jessie Buckley and Johnny Flynn image
Jessie Buckley and Johnny Flynn



Three performances in BEAST took my breath away. Jessie Bukley as Moll, Johnny Flynn as Pacal and Geraldine James as Moll’s mum, Hilary. Geraldine’s performance as Hilary is one of the greatest performances of Satan, I mean a mother, I have seen. She is just evil and she makes it look so natural, she needs an award for that small and pivotal performance that steals every scene.

Johnny Flynn as Pascal is a guy I would have fallen for as well, wouldn’t care if a serial killer or not, he was just gorgeous and masculine and earthly, I would love to clean him up hahaha. He is best known as front man of the band “Johnny Flynn And The Sussex Witt” but needs to do a lot more acting, the lens and the audience will love him.

And then there was Moll. Jessie Buckley delivers one of the best performances of 2018. A free spirited character that is emotionally beaten from her freedom. Is she a damsel or is she a psycho or is she the serial killer herself? These are questions that will go through your mind while watching. Her bright red air adds to her emotionally teetering character, “will she fall off the precipice of sanity” is evident in her eyes and endless facial expressions in every scene. I couldn’t keep my eyes off her. Buckley is best known for TABOO, a lot of Shakespeare on stage, with Dame Judi even, and will soon be in the epic THE VOYAGE OF DOCTOR DOOLITTLE with Robert Downey Jnr and half of Hollywood. Seriously it is half of Hollywood – look at the cast list HERE.


BEAST Johnny Flynn and Jessie Buckley image
Johnny Flynn and Jessie Buckley



What a wonderful movie BEAST was. This is one of those independent movies that 99.9% of the population will miss out on and it’s a shame because besides some minor flaws with the ending borders on brilliance. Get your ass out to see this one at art house cinemas and hope it comes to Netflix so more of the world can be rewarded.





 owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the  industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.