Beast Mode (2020)

“The dark side of fame” takes on a whole new meaning in this indie horror-comedy that meshes Bowfinger with How to Make a Monster.

Huxley Saxton is an arrogant actor whose bad boy image has garnered him an impeccable reputation. His last movie, Gods of Pluto, bombed so bad that his producer/agent Breen Nash is desperate to get his client back in the good graces of the industry. Something insane has happened on the day Breen was to meet financial investor Pish. Before the meeting, Breen accidentally kills Huxley by hitting him with his car. Desperate to get his next movie made as redemption for the disaster that is Gods of Pluto, Breen makes a desperate move.

Upon searching for a lookalike, Breen meets Michael, a homeless man who looks exactly like Huxley. At the same time, Breen meets a mysterious man who offers to help Breen find a way to bring the real Huxley back to life. As Breen is working on a horror film, he’s given a special kind of make up for the FX. However, the make up is cursed and turns its wearer into a monster at the stroke of midnight. To make matters worse, the real Huxley returns and has no idea what’s going on. All hell is literally about to break loose in the world of Hollywood.

Part-Bowfinger, part-How to Make a Monster, this insane horror-comedy from the mind of Chris Freeman and Spain Willingham with Drew Fontaine helping with the script gives a new meaning to “the dark side of fame”. The story of a Hollywood producer looking for redemption only to have his world literally turned upside down is a satire on Hollywood and unlike the use of a crazy religion as in Bowfinger, the use of cursed make-up seems like something similar to the 50s cult classic How to Make a Monster. The film has its moments of laughter and insane horror gimmicks that mesh well.

The film’s driving force is the veteran cast who make the most of the insanity that is all this film is about. C. Thomas Howell is hilarious as Breen, the desperate producer who is dying to get a hit film after the failure of his last one. From the moment we see him, one can see this guy being a whipping boy for the industry. He’s ridiculed by everyone around him. James Duval is great as both Huxley and his body double, Michael. The former is an arrogant actor whose reputation has gotten the best of him and the latter, a body double with scars who is both nervous and soon confident about who he becomes. Leslie Easterbrook, Daz Crawford, and James Hong add to the mix as Breen’s insane friend, a rival producer and movie mogul, and a financial investor respectively.

The horror side of the film is quite insane. It kicks in during the second half of the film and the FX are quite well done. The fact we see “cursed” make-up is quite something fresh for today’s era. Various people are killed in gory fashion, including one who got a strangulation via intestines. Sounds like an influence from a certain Story of Ricky, but if that’s not crazy enough, just wait for the final minutes of the film where things get totally insane.

Beast Mode is a satire on Hollywood mixed in with the classic monster movie, all with great and at times funny performances from the veteran cast. This gives a new meaning to “the dark side of fame”.

WFG RATING: B

Devilworks Productions presents a Brickyard Films production in association with Citicine Productions and UP & AWAY Productions. Directors: Chris Freeman and Spain Willingham. Producers: Chris Freeman, Spain Williamson, and Aaron Scotti. Writers: Chris Freeman, Spain Willingham, and Drew Fontaine. Cinematography: Matt Ryan. Editing: Jamie Marsh and Stephen Murphy.

Cast: C. Thomas Howell, James Duval, Leslie Easterbrook, Daz Crawford, James Hong, Ray Wise, Robert Costanzo, Adam Zastrow, J.T. Jackson, Douglas Bennett.

The film will be available on DVD and Digital on December 1.

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