SUNDANCE 2020 FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW! “Beast, Beast, ready to act” is chanted over and over at both the beginning and end of Danny Madden’s film Beast Beast. The chant is used in an improvisational exercise in Krista’s acting class. When the chant is over, the students all yell and release their inner beast for a brief moment. At the beginning of the film, everything seems very idyllic for Krista (Shirley Chen). She’s the star of her acting class, she has tons of friends, and a new cute boy gets the locker below hers on the first day of school.
“…the star of her acting class, she has tons of friends, and a new cute boy gets the locker below hers…”
We then follow that boy, Nito (Jose Angeles) to his home, which is a little bit less than idyllic. He lives with his father who almost always seems to have better things to do and only really seems to care about his pet parakeet. Nito is often out on his own, considering his father asks him to leave the house when he has “company” over. Through this alone time, he has become an exceptional skater, which we see through a series of videos shot on phones and through following him through his day. He becomes friends with some older kids in his apartment complex, Yoni (Daniel Rashid), Lena (Anissa Matlock), and Jarrett (Stephen Ruffin).
It is through Yoni that Nito first hangs out with Krista at a party someone’s having while their parents are out of town. We also meet Adam (Will Madden), a 24-year-old gun enthusiast who seems to have no connection to the story, considering his age. He is obsessively working on his YouTube channel devoted to gun safety, hunting, etc. He still lives at home with his parents and shows no sign of leaving any time soon. It turns out that Adam is Krista’s next-door neighbor who was her friend as a kid and took videos of her acting.
"…captures the high school experience like lightning in a bottle."