Bestia (2017) [Horrible Imaginings Film Festival 2017]

A man wakes up lost and seemingly in an abandoned, desolate forest/lake location where something may be lurking.

Written by Gigi Saul Guerrero and Raynor Shima and directed by Gigi Saul Guerrero, Bestia takes this story and makes it her own in terms of it fitting the last few shorts she has made, being about legends and lore. This short feels like something that is right out of a legend, in the way it’s presented, told, and shot. The film takes a simple premise of a man waking up in a strange location with danger looming. She takes this and puts it in a desolate location that may be Canada, where she resides, or a number of other locations, and then she sets it in a time frame that is unclear but looks like a period piece. The film takes these elements and makes them work for the story and work with the simplicity of it all. At the heart of it, simplicity is why this short works. The story is simple; man in a desolate location is in danger. The fear comes from the setting and the unknown. The fear of the unknown is what makes this short work on a story level and how this is handled is what makes it work on the screen.

The lead, and only character, is played by Mathias Retamal who takes this part and makes it feel like it has always been him. He plays this part naturally and without any doubt as to what he is supposed to be doing. This shows throughout the film. He also does amazing work without saying a single word for most of the film and when he does eventually speak, he says one single word and that’s it. That being said, so much is said by his expression and in his eyes that he does not need to speak, his face does all the speaking for him. His acting is top notch and should be recognized. Hopefully, this could get a longer version or he may get a longer, meatier part in a horror film in the future.

To go with this great performance, the film looks stunning. The cinematography regular Guerrero collaborator Luke Bramley is beautiful. He takes the simple, desolate location and gives it character by showing it in a way that makes it look serene and creepy at the same time. The way the trees and lake are framed and carefully shown creates a luxurious look for the film and for the lead to evolve in. This takes a simple story and elevates it.

Bestia shows a strong control of storytelling and imagery by Guerrero and crew, showing that everyone involved has a lot of talent and that in this team, they know how to put it all together and get it to work to the best result possible. Bestia shows not only the team’s talent, but also how they have evolved through many shorts and projects together. It makes one wish for a feature by these talented folks.