Review – The Beast of Xmoor

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Review – The Beast of Xmoor
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The Beast of Xmoor
Drama, Horror
Rating: NR
Prod. Co.: The Fyzz Facility Film Two
Distributor: Screen Media
Run Time: 1:16:00
October 10th, 2014

Writer/director Luke Hyams (Dubplate Drama, Bitchcraft) decided to try his hand at the horror genre recently with the film The Beast of Xmoor. Shot in Belfast, Northern Ireland, with a budget of one million Euros, the film has gone on to earn a wide mix of appreciation and hatred across the board upon its release in October of 2014. With a prominent cast and the production crew of The Fyzz Facility Film Two behind the project, it was only a matter of time before this sleek-looking offering made its way to DVD and the digital streaming market. But does this independent feature earn the scorn many have given it, or is there a fantastic flick hidden under all the negativity that others seem to have been able to discover?

The Beast of Xmoor is a stylish little thriller that involves a couple heading out on yet another work vacation. Georgia (Mella Kreiling, Guardians of the Galaxy, Company of Heroes) and Matt (Nick Blood, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Trollied) travel out to Xmoor in search of a wild animal, reported to be a large cat, that is killing off live stock. Georgia learns a £25,000 reward being offered by a local newspaper and, after some convincing, heads out with her boyfriend to capture the illusive creature, or at least find proof of its existence.

Along the way, Georgia meets up with Fox (Mark Bonnar, Britz, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag), a man she met in a local bar who is an established tracker. He claims to have found many a large cat over the years, and should be able to help the couple find this very one. He also introduces them to a drug addicted woman who survived its attack. Matt quickly begins to feel that there’s more going on between this man and Georgia, especially after he saves her from a group of local boys who she catches stealing from their supplies in their van. However, that doubt slowly shifts into something entirely different once the trio are in Xmoor and happen upon a dumping ground of female bodies.

The plan quickly changes, as Fox convinces the two to stay and try to find the man or beast involved in those very deaths. Trust becomes tested between the three, but more so between Fox and Matt, which only further complicates things and raises suspicions as to just who is hunting who. The problem is that there is a killer out there, which it becomes the team’s duty to stop with the intention of making headlines, as well as the few underlying intentions Fox brings to the table and slowly reveals through the last half of the movie. That is, if they can make it through the night…

The Beast of Xmoor immediately earns a little respect in the sense that it doesn’t go head first into the style of found footage, even though the film kind of carries itself like it intended to do so. The dread of it turning into just another recovered series of tape spliced together lingers shortly after the start when Georgia and Matt sit down to interview that crack addict who had seen the beast of Xmoor and lived to tell the tale, though it thankfully sticks with the third-person camera dynamics. Even when hunting the beast, you are given some shots from the various cameras set up around the perimeter, but it’s only to establish what they happen to be seeing back at base camp, and not as a way to swap view points, which comes into play later on when the killer happens to come across these devices set up throughout the forest.

But, one of the major downfalls to the film is that it seems some character development is ultimately cut, not to mention some side stories literally dropped out of nowhere. This is thanks to how tightly put together the film is, perhaps for the sake of keeping the length short since it does clock in at just over seventy-five minutes total. While having a smooth pacing from start to finish that never really leaves you bored or checking your watch to see how many minutes have passed is far from a bad thing, it does leave for some spots that seem to be a bit barren as far as story and background goes. Once in a while you get a brief glimpse elsewhere, such as at the start where the beast chases a woman to introduce what is coming up, as well as a scene in where Georgia and Matt are having sex with various statements made that allude to the two not having spent much time together as of late, something that actually would benefit the early distrust of the Fox with Georgia angle involving Matt, and the further doubt he has towards the man later on.

There are some problems that come up when more people are added into the story line later, such as the daughter of a father that is out hunting late at night, as well as the man in the hunting gear (supposedly the father) who claims he has no idea what’s going on and that everyone was alive when he left them. There’s a lot of misdirection through which the characters suffer the most pain and heartache from, and a lot of times just seems to be an excuse to go on a hunt to find someone they left behind in a huff. It’s also hard to believe that Georgia and Matt actually are in a relationship of any kind due to that very issue, making you wonder if there really was an unexplored reason to have those doubts early on between her and Matt given how she’ll basically leave him at the drop of a hat sometimes to escape the peril and save her own skin. Either that or it’s just poor writing. It can go either way, really, and given this is the first actual horror film for Luke Hyams, I’m willing to lean more in that direction.

In the end, The Beast of Xmoor starts off a cryptozoology hunt, but quickly becomes a knock-off of The Most Dangerous Game with a different start. Instead of trapping ships or inviting people out to hunt, the beast of this film captures and leaves women behind with that very sportsman goal in mind, but, as is the case this time around, goes after those that stumble on these lands. The deception angles are memorable, and are the most abundant of all situations in the film. Unfortunately, after you finish watching the movie, you can’t help but feel the story tried to do too much in too small an amount of time, perhaps leaving some vital scenes or bits of information on the cutting room floor that would better establish both why Fox has fallen from grace, as well as the relationship between Georgia and Matt other than a brief flashback towards the end that really could have been cut given how little development there was behind the two as a couple. The Beast of Xmoor could have used a little more room to nurture those aspects further but, as it stands, still winds up a fairly entertaining film for what it is.


Overall Score: 6/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by personal funds.