Beast Within opens with video game programmer August (Steven Morana) introducing an audience to the development team behind the latest online game of strategy and deception, “Werewolves Awaken.” What the guests do not know is that soon they will be participating in the ultimate game of survival, being hunted by a real werewolf. After the grisly murder of several partygoers, everyone on the development team becomes a suspect.
As the unknown killer leaves playing cards reading “innocent villager” with each victim, August teams up with his best friend Stan (Marco Timpano) and sort-of girlfriend Cheyenne (Holly Deveaux) to find the killer. But as the mangled corpses pile up, the team must come to terms with the inescapable fact that there is a werewolf hunting them, and any of them could be the creature.
Lured to the secluded hilltop mansion of gaming mogul Brian (Art Hindle), August and his team are trapped with nothing to keep the literal werewolves at bay. Each character possesses their own sinister motive. Paranoia ensues as the characters and the audience play out a classic whodunit with a Lycan twist. But when the list of suspects begins to dwindle and the body count rises, the only thing saving August may be the knowledge of his creation. Beast Within leaves you and the characters wondering who is an “innocent villager” and who is leading the pack.
“…August and his team are trapped with nothing to keep the literal werewolves at bay.”
Beast Within has a really cool concept from start to finish. As a massive fan of games like “One Night Ultimate Werewolf” and “Ultimate Werewolf,” I loved directors Chris Green and Steven Morana’s homages to each game’s style. If you are a fan of either game, you will appreciate the dedication and undeniable love for the strategic play of werewolf games within the film. Beast Within does take a while to introduce its players. Once it does, the film builds layers of deception and motive while delivering the ever-important werewolf kills.
The greatest strength of Beast Within is clearly in its meta and classic monster subject matter. However, the film does have its shortcomings. With any great mystery, the audience is invited into the detective role along with the characters. The idea is that the audience can be fooled by the killers, too, so they can share in the triumph of solving the unsolvable. There are unexpected moments in the film, but due to the constant juggling of unclear characters, it’s difficult to play along at home, and it takes away from the payoff during each big reveal.
As a fan of werewolves in cinema, novels, and honestly any medium, I have a deep appreciation for the efforts put into creating a unique wolfman narrative. The references to table-top games and Remy’s (Ari Millen) monologue about a werewolf’s motives and “keeping the wolves” out was by far my favorite moment. The monster make-up is fantastic, and the general werewolf atmosphere is always a blast. Despite the lack of clues for the audience and some missed opportunities to flush out characters, Green and Morana deliver a moonlit story worthy of its title. I would recommend this film to a very niche audience, specifically fans of those pre-Sharknado Syfy channel horror films such as Never Cry Werewolf or Chupacabra: Dark Seas.
"…...builds layers of deception and motive while delivering the ever-important werewolf kills. "