Animal attack films have been cult classics since the late '70s. This type of film started with Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds in 1963 and became a successful genre with Steven Spielberg's Oscar-winning Jaws.
Since then, animal attack films never had to look back until flopping in the 2010s. The recent Beast, directed by Baltasar Kormákur, is a new addition to this genre which tells the story of a man protecting his daughters from a vengeful rogue lion in the hostile savannah.
Idris Elba portrays the protagonist Dr. Nate Samuels who came to a South African game reserve with his daughters on vacation to reconnect them with their mother's home village. Unfortunately, the daughters resent him for leaving their terminally ill mother, so this is Nate's chance to make amends.
Their vacation goes awry when they find a massacred community in reserve. There's been a lion attack, but nobody was taken as food; it seems like the lion just came here to kill everyone in sight, an odd behaviour. As the Nate family investigates, they finally meet the lion seeking revenge as the crooked poachers killed his family once.
Further behaviour of the lion suggests that he sees every human as his enemy and will not hesitate to pounce on anyone he sees in his territory. Encounter with the rogue lion injured Nate, his daughter Meredith and their family friend Martin. So it is up to Nate to save his family from the apex predator. But, can man beat the beast? Only this film can tell.
Few animal attack movies make the audience sympathize with the antagonist; Beast is one of them. The lion is the antagonist, but the film also shows why and how he became so vengeful at first. Thus the audience may sometimes side with the beast rather than cheering for team human the whole time.
This sad backstory of the lion reminds the audience of 1983 Cujo, where a friendly dog becomes a murdering beast after it comes in contact with a rabid bat.
Beast is an impressive film about man vs wild survival, given that it's made on a low budget. Director Kormákur and his visual effects team did an excellent job creating the antagonist lion with CGI effects.
The cinematography is excellent, putting the audience in the shoes of Nate and his daughters, who are constantly afraid of being hunted by the lion, which attacks them with jumpscares. But Beast doesn't have a strong plot like most animal attack films. If this genre fans want to see Idris Elba throwing hands against the beast, they are in for a treat.