JANUARY 21, 2010
In a way it’s sort of awesome that Beast Within (aka Virus Undead) isn’t just a killer bird movie, because that’s what I was expecting (based on the box art, featuring a scary looking bird, and the blurb saying that it’s “The Birds meets Outbreak”). So when it turned out to actually be a zombie movie of sorts, I was surprised and engaged by the turn of events. But had I known it was a zombie movie, I probably would have been disappointed, since the zombie stuff is largely confined to the final half hour.
It sort of reminded me of Dead Snow a bit, in that it’s actually structured very much like a slasher movie - three friends go off to an isolated house that one of them inherited, and are joined by two lovely young women, and someone is watching them, etc. So I’m like “cool, a killer bird movie with slasher sensibilities!” and then all of a sudden, I’m waiting for killer birds to show up, and BAM! some zombies are biting our heroes and trying to invade the house where they are holed up. Then the birds do show up on top of that. I mean, it’s not a particularly great movie, but the largely successful combination of genres was a nice surprise.
I also liked the surprising depiction of the two female characters (spoilers ahead!) One’s the hero’s old flame, and the other is sort of a slut, and given the slasher feel, you probably assume that the latter will die instantly and the former might be the only one to make it out alive. However, the slutty one turns out to not only last a while, but sort of kick some ass as well, and the would-be heroine plummets to her death during the climax. And the goofy cop, who is set up as a sort of Deputy Dewey comic relief hero, gets killed early on. So not only am I surprised at the type of movie it is, I’m also mildly surprised with how it plays out as well. Excellent.
And it’s fairly well made too, another nice surprise. Yes, we’ve come to the point where seeing a professionally executed movie is a surprise. But it’s Lionsgate’s fault - they distribute such a wide range of DTV movies (and so many of each type), it’s impossible to tell from the cover and synopsis if it’s some guy’s backyard indie, or an import, or a legit movie that they just never released theatrically. This is an import, and it hilariously even makes a big deal out of the fact that it was shot on film on the back of the DVD. Again, this shouldn’t be necessary, but you get so many movies shot on consumer DVD these days, why not point out that the filmmakers had enough pride in their creation to shoot it on something that looked good?
I also loved the score, but I could swear I have heard it before in another movie. It's in the trailer - give it a listen and see if you recognize it. I wanted to say like Midnight Meat Train, but that ain't it. Something on those lines, perhaps? I dunno. Either way I want it as a ringtone.
The only technical gaffe is some bad dubbing, which is only noticeable because it only seems to affect the female characters. Everyone seems to be speaking English (unless the German translation would require almost identical mouth movement), but the female characters, even minor ones, all have that detached sound to their voices. It was a constant distraction for me.
I was also a bit puzzled as to why the film was given the moniker Wolf Wolff’s Beast Within. Mr Wolff was one of two directors (the other being someone named simply Ohmuthi), and he did not produce or write the film at all. Kind of brazen if you ask me. And he doesn’t seem to be any sort of big deal, he has two other films, one of which doesn’t even seem to have been released (what with only 8 votes on the IMDb), and the other isn’t well known in the States, so I doubt it was a marketing ploy from LG. I wonder if Mr. Wolff refers to the film as “Wolf Wolff’s Beast Within”, just like Wes Craven actually refers to Nightmare 7 as “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare” (I actually heard him say this - I was delightfully baffled). The DVD doesn’t have any extra features to find out (unless you consider 5.1 sound and Spanish subtitles to be extra features, because that’s where you will find them on the DVD menu).
So look, it’s not a great film, but it’s a solidly entertaining one all the same, and I think if you go in blind, or even just going by the DVD cover, you’ll probably enjoy its kitchen sink approach and largely old-school (save for the CGI birds) feel.
What say you?