May 25, 2024

THE BEAST MUST DIE (2021) – Judging a book by its cover

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Rating: ⭐⭐

This six parts British series is a crime thriller that tells the story of how a woman takes the law into her own hands in tracking down the hit and run driver who killed her son. Sounds like a story that has been told in various forms of variation over the years so this needs to bring on something new in order for it to be differentiated with the others.

Sadly I would say The Beast Must Die is a missed opportunity. None of the characters were particularly interesting and the premise of how the single mother who worked as a teacher, can so cleverly solve the mystery on her own is a bit of a stretch. That could have been more acceptable had the leading lady played by Cush Jumbo, been a more interesting and believable person. As it is, she is merely portrayed a character going through the moments as required by the plot leading to its inevitable conclusion. Not even the accomplished Jared Harris who plays the bad guy, could save this from its mediocre standards. His character is so one dimensionally written that we don’t get any sense of what made him the way he is. He comes across as just someone behaving and treating everyone around him badly. Finally, there is the supporting character of the town’s new sheriff played by Billy Howle. He is introduced as having some sort of mental challenges from an unpleasant past experience but this occasional disability just comes across as a minor (and irritating) distraction to the flow which adds nothing to the main story. In general, everybody comes across with a performance that felt like it could have been better.

What I do like about the series is its background. It is filmed mainly in the breathtaking Isle of Wight which provided a dramatic backdrop whenever there were outdoor scenes. The long picturesque coastline and hugging winding roads along it were beautifully shot in a number of aerial point of views. I dare say the location sets stole the show each time they were used.

While I guess the film makers should not change the ending of adaptations, I cannot help feeling that the ending would have been far more shocking and impactful if the identity of the hit and run driver was not the obvious person here. That would have thrown all the preceding actions taken by the woman to hunt down the obvious perpetrator up in the air. That could have then become a lesson on the extreme consequences of judging a book by its cover. It would have blurred the line between who is the actual “beast” in the title instead of its direct Oh well, one can always imagine a better ending ..

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