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  Beast Beast Collision Course
Year: 2020
Director: Danny Madden
Stars: Shirley Chen, Will Madden, Jose Angeles, Courtney Dietz, Daniel Rashid, Anissa Matlock, Stephen Ruffin, Chip Carriere, Kron Moore, Susan Gallagher, Charles Green, Cynthia Barrett, Crystal R. Davis, Eli Raskin, Matt Skollar, Jaclyn Wiederman
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Krista (Shirley Chen) is a high school student who most enjoys her theatre class, throwing herself into the plays and exercises they provide and spending her time away thinking over and rehearsing what she can do next. Meanwhile, Nito (Jose Angeles) is a new kid in town, who has come from a bad background but is not a bad guy: he has a passion too, which is skateboarding and parkour, both of which he is adept at and uploads online videos about to show off his prowess, though he is a lot quieter away from the camera. Lastly, someone else who would like to be an internet star is Adam (Will Madden), and his way in is to demonstrate guns and gun safety from his extensive collection of firearms, though getting those hits proves difficult...

Beast Beast was yet another state of the nation indie drama, this time expanded from a short called Krista by writer and director Danny Madden, who returned here with Chen and his brother Will. It was one of those films where you knew there was something bad about to happen, but were not sure when it would occur, though you could guess it would break loose in the latter stages, and you would not be wrong about that. Before the big event, we were invited to hang out with these three teens and observe their lives, basically judge them as to their morality and worthiness to be part of society, with no real surprises which one was going to be the main troublemaker (clue: it was the one whose access to weaponry channels into his, er, channel).

If anything, this was reminiscent of those nineteen-nineties teen dramas from Larry Clark which purposefully courted controversy in what it claimed were realistic depictions of the way kids behaved right now, which was intended to shock, though who did not go through their teenage years without being shocked more than once, anyway? In this case we were offered a hot button subject to crystallise the lives of the central trio around, but all indications were that Madden did not need this melodramatic finale (two of them, in fact), when the meandering approach to the larger part of the film was stronger than the manner in which he imposed tragedy upon them. Certainly, there were young lives in America, anywhere in the world, to be honest, that would be blighted with violence, but this story risked being hackneyed when it contained no surprises other than how said violence would go down.

Taking on this subject was trickier than it appeared, as not only had it been done to death by this time, from Over the Edge in the seventies to Elephant in the noughties, and many more, but lending your observations on how easily a situation can escalate into bloodshed, seemingly out of nowhere, was not as original as you would like to think when the same issues came up again and again: bullying, peer pressure, too easy access to weapons, inability to cope with strong emotions like anger or embarrassment, and so forth. The main difference in the twenty-twenties was the online world which amplified all these downfalls, but even that had been doing its damage for decades by the point Beast Beast was released. Plus, the resolution strained the believability. Therefore, you had to look to the fair performances from the cast to have a motive to seek this out, suggesting they would be worth seeing in something else - surely Angeles needed an action flick to shine - and if they had gone onto bigger things, director included, you would be able to say you saw them here first - it did have promise and vitality, even when the subject was, basically, death.

[Blue Finch Film Releasing presents Beast Beast on Digital Download 30 April 2021.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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