Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Beast Mode: A P.G.A. Horror Story

As the producer of the biggest box office bomb in Hollywood history, Breen Nash would kill for a hit. He more or less does so unintentionally, when he unknowingly sets in motion a bizarre pseudo-lycanthropic monster in an effort to save his latest production. The show must go on, but the price will be high in Chris W. Freeman & Spain Willingham’s Beast Mode, which releases today on VOD.

Nash applied Truman’s advice regarding DC to Hollywood and got himself a dog for his best friend. He doesn’t even kid himself about the rest of his associates, but somehow, he still managed to package a deal to produce
Beast Moon with surly, hard-partying Huckle Saxton. There is no deal without Saxton, so Nash is understandably concerned when he accidently backs over the troubled star with his car. He feels bad, but the deal still needs to be finalized, so he hires a lookalike to take Saxton’s place.

The nicer Saxton is the star’s spitting image, except for his blemished face, but fortunately Nash can call in a favor with old school makeup goddess, Zelda Zine. She knows a guy who has this cream derived from a rare South American flower that works wonders. The only drawback is it literally brings out the beast in people—round midnight. Suddenly, nice Saxton isn’t so nice anymore and neither is everyone else who came into physical contact with the cream.

Freeman, Willingham, and co-screenwriter Drew Fortune tell a nutty, chaotic story, but they certainly find fresh ways to skewer Hollywood. Seriously, this is not like dozens of other tame show business satires. They really draw blood, so to speak.

They also have the benefit of sporting cast that comes with built-in nostalgic appeal. Frankly, this is the most fun we’ve had watching C. Thomas Howell since
Red Dawn or maybe The Hitcher. As Nash, he perfectly balances earnestness and sleaziness. Ray Wise does his thing as the mysterious makeup guru who might hold the answers, while recognizable characters actors James Hong and Robert Costanzo chew all kinds of scenery as Nash’s financial backer and the PI trying to expose him. Plus, the dog is great.

The gory practical effects will further appeal to fans’ nostalgia. This is throwback horror-comedy done the right way. It is not exactly
The Player, but it is amusing and Freeman & Willingham keep its feet firmly planted in genre ground. Enthusiastically recommended for horror viewers with a sense of humor, Beast Mode releases today (12/1) on VOD.