Retitled from the original Uncaged, Beast Within, perhaps inadvertently, reflects the schizophrenic nature of its lycanthropic lead. Bright-eyed teen Jack (Getz) discovers, to his horror, that he’s a werewolf (thanks to an unfortunate incident involving his parents when he was a child) and during a weekend away with two chums he finds himself waking up naked in the middle of nowhere having gone werewolf walkies during the night. But what’s he been getting up to during his night-time frolics? He decides to strap a mini-camera to his head to find out the truth… Beast Within is equally confused about its own identity; is it a horror film, a thriller, a comedy? Frustratingly it ends up trying to touch too many bases and comes across as fussy and undisciplined, losing a potentially-interesting (if not entirely original) twist to the traditional werewolf yarn, under a stodgy confusion of half-hearted gangster clichés and clumsy and tiresome torrid teen shenanigans.
In theory, the story of a naïve youngster realising he has to bear the burden of transforming into a monstrous ravenous killing machine under the baleful glare of the full moon really ought to be enough – it worked wonders for An American Werewolf in London, after all. But Beast Within’s sluggish script muddies the water, when our hairy hero crosses the path of a languid, can-barely-be-bothered gangster who seems to have wandered into the story purely to facilitate a bit of a blood-frenzy when Jack transforms and indulges in some long-awaited and much-needed gory blood-letting. Elsewhere Jack’s friends get fairly short shrift; Turner (Kirkpatrick) is a slightly boring jock whose girlfriend performs a neat disappearing trick before drifting back into the story to meet an unfortunate end and Jack’s nerdy cousin Brandon (Weiner), who provides the film’s beating comedy heart, is an unholy cross between The Inbetweeners’ Simon Bird and SuperBad’s Christopher Mintz-Plasse. When he disappears from the film, it loses its sense of fun and a lot of its watchability.
Beast Within is well made, efficiently directed and it offers some decent special effects on an undoubtedly microscopic budget. But one more pass on the script could have removed some of the flab which drags the story down and, whilst it mercifully avoids the ‘found footage’ gimmick its headcam conceit suggests is lying in wait, there’s not really enough energy or invention on show to make this anything other than a footnote in the history of werewolf movies.
BEAST WITHIN / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: DANIEL ROBBINS / SCREENPLAY: DANIEL ROBBINS, MARK RAPAPORT / STARRING: BEN GETZ, KYLE KIRKPATRICK, GARRETT HENDRICKS, ZACK WEINER / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW