Set against the striking landscapes of Jersey, psychological romance drama Beast is the feature debut by writer and director Michael Pearce. The plot follows lonely island tour guide Moll (Jessie Buckley) who is very much the black sheep within her insular family. When she falls for rugged and mysterious stranger Pascal (Johnny Flynn), she sees a chance to break free from her isolated existence. Meanwhile, there’s a serial killer on the loose and Moll’s dark past comes back to haunt her.
The eerie environment plays an integral part in establishing the unsettling atmosphere which is key to the film’s success. Pearce slowly builds Hitchcockian suspense as the story steadily develops, with narrative strands of both an intense romance and a murder investigation happening simultaneously. Buckley is superb as the volatile protagonist and unreliable narrator of the piece, and the combination of lust and distrust in Moll’s relationship with Pascal is intriguing throughout.
Pearce’s ambitious directorial debut treads the line between dream-like ecstasy and nightmarish horror as the fantastic character study at its core unravels. It is seductive, steamy and downright sinister, and its impact is amplified by Buckley and Flynn’s terrific performances.