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Beast 2017



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About the Beast 💬

BEAST is the debut feature of BAFTA-nominated writer-director Michael Pearce.

  • Family. Passion. Murder.

Michael Pearce's debut feature BEAST is a love story trapped within a horror film; a dark fairytale about an emotionally isolated woman who comes under the spotlight of an island community when she falls in love with a man who may not be quite what he seems.

''In captivity... some go insane.''

  • Have you ever just needed to break free? In some cases, we need to let out the inner BEAST.

Moll Huntington (Jessie Buckley) is 27 and still living at home, stifled by the small island community around her and too beholden to her family to break away.

  • It's time to change the rules. A taste for freedom.

When she meets Pascal Renouf (Johnny Flynn), a free-spirited stranger, a whole new world opens up to her and she begins to feel alive for the first time, falling madly in love.

  • Love has a darker side.

Finally breaking free from her family, Moll moves in with Pascal to start a new life. But when he is arrested as the key suspect in a series of brutal murders, she is left isolated and afraid.

  • What makes a monster?

Choosing to stand with him against the suspicions of the community, Moll finds herself forced to make choices that will impact her life forever.


''I grew up in Jersey and I knew I wanted to make my first film there; it has a very unique landscape - scenic and wild - but it's also quite conservative in terms of its values and its culture,'' says Pearce. ''As a child, it was both freeing and a little stifling.''

Jersey, and the shadow created by the infamous Beast of Jersey, a child molester who had evaded capture on the island for ten years in the 1960s, bred in Pearce an interest in stories which shed light on the darkness hiding beneath the surface of a seemingly perfect community. This contrast between light and dark, good and evil, led to a fascination with true-life stories about characters sucked into the slipstream of the dark lives of more sinister figures.

Michael became increasingly interested in exploring a story from the close POV of a similarly conceived woman, who might be intimately involved with a monster.

''It was very important for me that the mystery surrounding Pascal is matched by our curiosity surrounding Moll's psychological state: is she a woman courageously standing beside an innocent man? Is she someone who discovered humanity where others couldn't? Is she blinded by love and unknowingly in physical danger? Or is there a more sinister dimension to her - is she taking revenge on the people that oppressed her? Could she also be a BEAST?''

Michael's interest in the wild and the tame expressed itself in the story of a woman straddling two worlds, seeking to find out where she belongs.

''The film is strictly told from Moll's point-of-view and while it invites the audience to empathize with her it also destabilizes their identification. I love cinema that creates a complex relationship between character and the audience. With BEAST, I never wanted to let the audience's sympathies become settled. Moll is much more anti-heroine than damsel-in-distress.''

As he developed the script Michael decided he wanted it to be more mythical in its aspirations than just be a contemporary crime drama.

''I realized the story began to have strong resonances with fairytales - a seemingly naive heroine, trapped in an oppressive home environment, ventures into the woods and meets a man that might be prince charming, or might be the big bad wolf. I continued to imbue the story with some of the archetypes of fairytales and conceptually framed it as the story of a woman coming to power. So whilst the film flirts with several genres - thriller, suspense, love story, psychological horror, family melodrama, and whilst it is a bit of all those things, it's ultimately a dark and dramatic fairytale for grown-ups. It's the story of a woman who faces many monsters - those within her family, those out in the wild, and those lying dormant within her.''

  • Michael Pearce on the Aesthetic of the Film

''Though the film isn't period-set, I didn't want it to have a contemporary feeling or be too specific about exactly when the action takes place - I wanted to create a more timeless and nostalgic feeling. I felt this would create a visual platform for the fable and fairy tale qualities of the story to resonate from. So with every aspect of the visual approach - art direction, costume, lenses, color palette etc. - I was drawing on my childhood memories of growing up on the island during the eighties and trying to endow the film with that atmosphere. With my HODs, we collated masses of photos and images that helped us create a visual universe that was atmospherically and emotionally rich whilst still being grounded and unaffected. We tried to create two distinct worlds - the 'prison' Moll finds herself in - her family environment, her interactions with the police and the community - and the more liberated environments of Pascal's world. One was stiff, formal and suffocating, so we used geometric production designs and steady camera tracks, slow zooms, formal compositions, The other was more organic and fluid - we shot everything hand-held and gave everything a natural texture. We used a similar approach with the editing - it's more deliberately paced when Moll is trapped and much more impressionistic and looser when she's with Pascal.''

Beast Movie Details 🎥

Directed by

Michael Pearce

Writing Credits

Michael Pearce


Jessie Buckley

Johnny Flynn

Trystan Gravelle

Geraldine James

Shannon Tarbet

Hattie Gotobed

Oliver Maltman

Olwen Fouéré

Charley Palmer Rothwell

Emily Taaffe

Music by

Jim Williams

Cinematography by

Benjamin Kracun

Category: EEBAFTAs, BAFTA Award Nominee

Genres: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Romance, Thriller

Country: United Kingdom

Beast Official Trailer

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