A 12-year-old girl loses her parents in a car accident and is forced to live with her unstable aunt, who is tied to bad people. She soon befriends an escaped mental patient she meets in the woods and hides him at home.
Alfred Hitchcock was quoted as saying, “Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.” Beloved Beast is very lifelike. The story of a young orphan who goes to live with her strung out aunt after a deadly accident has a lot on its mind and a very clear vision. It’s a shame then, that glacial pacing and a singular rhythm stamp the life out of this moderately entertaining yarn.
Writer, director, cinematographer, and editor Jonathan Holbrook helms a hefty load, telling the story of Nina and her brush with the darker side of society. Beginning with a very Tarantino-esque style, the movie opens with a gritty accident. Nina, the sole survivor of said accident is then sent off to live with her aunt Irma who, for lack of a better term, is kind of an icky person. As Nina lay in bed upstairs, Irma invites her friends and a drug dealer into the party.
“The two hit it off, her with a concussion and he totally speechless…“
Cut to the interior of an asylum. Orderlies and nurses are strewn about. Splatters of blood spot the floor and walls. Carefully, in a drawn-out sequence, a nurse clinging to life slides across the floor for help to be met with a screaming inmate losing her mind. We are next introduced to the deputy and his friend who indulge the audience in, I swear to god, the invention of the donut. It is here that I realized what Holbrook was going for, and how he was missing the mark, but we will get to that in a minute.
Aunty Irma takes a job that requires her to go away for a few days and decides that leaving little Nina at home with bologna sandwiches is enough for her to meet the minimum requirement of adulting. That is when Nina meets Harvey (Jonathan Holbrook), the escaped mental patient. The two hit it off, her with a concussion and he, totally speechless. In a flashback sequence narrated by one of the townsfolk, we learn the sad history of Harvey, an abused, neglected child. Harvey ends up becoming the de facto guardian for Nina serendipitously stepping in where family stepped out.
“The guy wrote, directed, produced and cut Beloved Beast…”
This film is an indulgent, fatty piece of storytelling that conveys in 3 hours, a story that could have filled 80 minutes. The culprit is not the detailed plot, which I found to be entertaining enough. No, this film is the victim of its own ambitions and a painfully slow pace that would make Meet Joe Black seem short. Holbrook directs his performers to deliver in the same deadpan, monotone, coating the action with a certain lethargy. There is no change of rhythm in the epic story, just the steady pace of movie whose beats you can predict.
Holbrook is talented. There is no question about that. The guy wrote, directed, produced and cut Beloved Beast together. It’s just a shame that this strange yarn couldn’t be reduced to the essentials and given real power. Had we been offered less movie with more meaning, the impact would have been far greater.
Beloved Beast (2018) Written and directed by Jonathan Holbrook. Starring Jonathan Holbrook, Sanae Loutsis, Elizabeth Rhoades.
3 out of 10 stars