As a full moon rises over the tiny town of Nioba, Mississippi a recently married couple Caroline and Eli MacCleary (Tremors Bibi Besch and Robocop’s Ronny Cox) drive through the silent night off on their honeymoon.
When their car gets stuck in the middle of a frightening forest road Eli heads off to get help leaving his wife alone. But she is not alone as a disgusting creature has escaped its basement prison and now roams the woods and when it spies Caroline it attacks and rapes her.
17 years later and the couple have a son from that upsetting night named Michael (Paul Clemens) who has recently been hospitalized with a strange and disturbing disease that doctors cannot explain but appears to be genetic. Having kept the terrible events of his creepy conception hidden all these years the couple decide to confront the past and head back to Nioba for answers to save their boy.
What they discover is a town full of secrets and cover ups where no one is willing to help them or their ill offspring. But as the parents search for the truth Michael is on a quest of his own possessed by an evil beast within that craves revenge and blood and will stop at nothing to get it from the people responsible.
A loose adaptation of Edward Levy’s 1981 novel The Beast Within the story and script of the film was penned by horror screenwriter supremo Tom Holland the man who wrote and directed both the original Fright Night and Childs Play.
Exploring teen angst, sexual awakening, adolescence and childhood rebellion with the added element of his violent and violating creation Michael’s behavior could be seen as an analogy for all kids become adults unable to control their emotions, desires or feelings as they navigate their way to becoming fully grown.
The Beast Within puts an original twist on the typical transforming teenager storyline usually found in werewolf movies like Ginger Snaps, Teen Wolf and American Werewolf in London though combining a mystery thriller plot with a series of slasher scenes as Michael rages around overtaken by the creature inside him.
Clemens is excellent keeping Michael likable as a victim of something way beyond his control rather than just a crazed psychopath. Besch and Cox do a great job as his doomed parents and there is a solid supporting cast including Don Gordon, R.G. Armstrong, L.Q. Jones and Katherine Moffat as the focus of Michael’s new found lust.
As the film falls into its final act we realise the title is not just symbolic and director Philippe Mora moves the movie into the realms of body horror with a disgusting and disturbing transformation scene where flesh rips and skin shreds reminiscent of the crazy creations of John Carpenter or Cronenberg’s The Fly.
As the gore, action and horror increases however the story takes a nose dive and the final explanation for the monster Michael has become is confusing at best and near nonsensical which sadly lessens the overall impact of the film leaving it to limp out after such a strong start.
Overall The Beast Within is a slick and sick slice of terror ridden teen monster movie madness it’s just a pity the plot ends up as hideous as Michael does.