Beast (2022) poster

Beast (2022)


USA/Iceland. 2022.


Director – Baltasar Kormákur, Screenplay – Ryan Engle, Story – Jaime Primak Sullivan, Producers – Baltasar Kormakur, James Lopez & Will Packer, Photography – Philippe Rousselot, Music – Steven Price, Visual Effects Supervisor – Enrik Pavdeja, Visual Effects – Framestore, Special Effects Supervisor – Max Poolman, Production Design – Jean-Vincent Puzos. Production Company – Will Packer Productions/RVK Studios.


Idris Elba (Dr Nate Samuels), Sharlto Copley (Martin Battles), Iyana Halley (Meredith Samuels), Leah Jeffries (Norah Samuels), Tafara Nyatsanza (Banji)


Nate Samuels, a doctor from New York City, and his two teenage daughters, fly into the small African village where Nate met his late wife. They meet Nate’s old friend Martin Battles, who works as a game warden. Martin takes them out to show them the lions. They come across a native village where everyone has been killed by a rogue lion that has been wounded by poachers. They are then attacked and Battles badly wounded. This forces them to have to make a perilous journey back to safety, while being stalked by the lion.

Beast is an Animals Attack Film. This is a genre that peaked in the 1970s and has seen various incarnations since. I have an essay on the genre here at Animals Attack Films. Amidst this, here have been sporadic films about killer lions and tigers with the likes of Savage Harvest (1981), The Ghost and the Darkness (1996), Prey (2007), Prey (2016) and Rogue (2020). The best in this mini-genre was Burning Bright (2010) about a brother and sister trapped inside a house with a tiger.

Beast is an international production from Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur. Kormákur premiered with 101 Reykjavik (2000) and then went onto various other Icelandic films such as The Sea (2002), A Little Trip to Heaven (2005), Jar City (2006) and White Night Wedding (2008). He was brought to the US for various thrillers and action films such as Inhale (2010), Contraband (2012) and 2 Guns (2013). Kormákur’s greatest acclaim has come for his survival dramas such as The Deep (2012), Everest (2015) and Adrift (2018), while he also produced Against the Ice (2022). Kormákur has not directed anything that falls within genre confines before this, although he did produce Summerland (2010) about elves and the tv series Katla (2021) about the appearance of doppelgangers in a small Icelandic village in the lee of an active volcano.

Kormákur likes to make films that offer a natural challenge – the recurrent theme in many of his works is of humanity pitted against the environment. With Beast, Kormákur establishes his bone fides by shooting in South Africa and rooting the film among the native peoples and the poaching/anti-poaching movements. On the other hand, this sits alongside the artificiality of what are clearly CGI lions, even if the appearances of the lion are alarmingly convincing.

Idris Elba under attack in Beast (2022)
Idris Elba under attack in the vehicle

I was not particularly concerned one way or another about the fairly superficial story about Idris Elba reconnecting with his estranged daughters. More interesting was the depiction of the politics of the poaching and anti-poaching lobbies, although the film never delved into these as much as you wish that it would – ie. the poachers have no purpose in the film beyond the dramatic.

That leaves, Beast to work in terms of an Animals Attack film, which it does with intermittent effect. Komalkur generates reasonable suspense. There are undeniable scenes where the film becomes quite gripping – the lion trying to drag Idris Elba out of an SUV by his leg; Idris forced to shelter beneath the SUV as it teeters on the edge of a cliff and the lion tries to get to him; the lion forcing in through the window of the vehicle as the two girls huddle inside. The climactic scenes with Idris Elba being battered and torn apart by a lion with nothing to defend himself make for a brutal watch.

In the end though, Beast felt a just okay watch. There is suspense, there are lion attacks. Did it keep me on the edge of the seat? In moments. How does it stack up as an entry in the growing genre of killer lion/tiger films? It’s better than Rogue, not quite up there with Burning Bright. But in the end, it is a none particularly distinguished entry.

Trailer here

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