starring Shirley Chen, Will Madden, Jose Angeles, Courtney Dietz
written and directed by Danny Madden
by Walter Chaw SPOILER WARNING IN EFFECT. Slacking around in the common area shared by Elephant, Madeline's Madeline, and Skate Kitchen, Danny Madden's message-heavy melodrama Beast Beast would've been better served just being about the difficulties of adolescence without wading into the gun debate. Once this pretty decent hangout flick tries to gain some gravitas, it invites close scrutiny of the ways it's going about it. One side will start looking for reasons to discredit it, while the other will be burdened by this uneasy recognition that sometimes, undisciplined good intentions make the struggle harder. There's a fine line between a cogent argument, after all, and The Life of David Gale, and Beast Beast is further evidence that liberals tend to be their own worst enemy. It's too bad.
One issue is having the Asian girl as a model student with distant Asian parents who nevertheless get a moment post-traumatic event in which they hug their grieving girl. I have some experience here. I would have to say it would've been more devastatingly true if the remote, disapproving Asian parents had grounded her for hanging around with someone who was murdered (especially a Latino boy), sent her to a different school, and forced her to drop theatre and play the viola. I'm just saying. Another issue is having said Latino boy break into a house where the angry white kid murders him with the assault rifle. In fact, the only stereotype I'm not having an issue with is the race of the mass shooter. I'm frankly not even taking much issue with him murdering the three guys who broke into his house and are in the process of examining the cutlery when he unloads.
The greatest shame is that what could've been an interesting update of Taxi Driver in which the new (social) media immediately brands the delicate psychopath an alt-right, Second Amendment hero is instead this unlikely moral fable that sees Adam's quick rise followed instantly by a steep fall. See, Adam is framed for assaulting Krista in an inexplicable, indefensible scenario--an angry "fuck you" video of Adam threatening to kill his comment section is leaked--and his legions of red-hat followers swiftly abandon him. I have a tough time believing that this white hero, fresh from killing two slackers and a brown person, would lose a ton of cred for choking out an Asian woman. Just saying. In the pursuit of telling a cautionary tale, Beast Beast becomes one. Though I agree with its politics, I cringe at its execution. In that way, I suppose, it captures the plight of being a Democrat in 2020 perfectly. Programme: NEXT