Running time: 95 mins
Director: Brian Yuzna
Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Jason Barry, Elsa Pataky
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi
Thirteen years on from his arrest and subsequent incarceration thanks to Dan turning states evidence, Herbert West is about to get another chance. When a new prison doctor with his own dark history looks to pick up were West’s research has been left dormant for more than a decade.
The years gone by have allowed director Yuzna the time he needed to consider what went wrong with Bride of Re-Animator. With the Filipino returning for a third film and a second bite at getting it right behind the lens will any of that lamenting have done any good? The time has been spent wisely as the film has a very distinct and highly impressive look to it. Something that budgetary restraints pre-technological leap of the late 90’s seriously hampered the bridge that was Bride. The cinematography seems a lot more accomplished and even allows Yuzna to mix up his style almost on a scene by scene basis, one moment working an Orson Welles inspired tracking shot (crane included) from the roof of the prison down into the workout yard, the next going emotive and energetic with steadycam. Even his use of split screen and merges playfully hint towards a film that’s striving to be style over any real scientific content. Most notably, for fans, and this might be a little thing but the film has dropped the labelling of itself as “H.P Lovecraft’s…”. This might be a small thing, many will scoff at the importance being placed on it but the psychological effects of this liberation are enormous. The visual style and narrative of the film, though familiar, are extremely distinct and confident. Beyond Re-Animator works incredibly well as a new installation in the West legend but also stands alone – apart and as enjoyable as any other horror-sci/fi going.
Combs (as West) is nothing short of a revelation. By this point he’s been twenty two years in the business and has had the luxury of working with and alongside some excellent film makers, let alone horror film makers. Herbert West (in Beyond) is a different West, a less cock-sure and matinee hammy horror Herbert. He’s a little broken down by the system, a little defeated by the triumph of man made laws over science but eternally hopeful. It’s a fantastically refreshing portrayal and a remarkable change of gear from the horror favourite. Jason Barry is similarly impressive as Dr. Howard Phillips, the
born actor has never been in finer form and after having to include Titanic on his filmography Beyond Re-Animator should have been the
cleansing fresh start of a newborn and incredibly impressive career. Barry has, of yet, not made the leap he
deserves. Elsa Pataky (Laura Olney) and Simón Andreu
(Warden Brando) firm up the impressive cast with strong performances in routine
characters (Elsa’s investigative reporter & Simón’s prison warden). Pataky, especially, does well with the
relatively uncomplicated character she’s given and performances in Fast Five, Snakes on a Plane and most impressively Giallo have since cemented her as a strong piece of casting for
any director looking a confident female on the books.
Praise for Beyond Re-Animator must fall to Brian Yuzna. As producer he has served on all three films, as director he saw his first attempt at furthering Stuart Gordon’s original vision fall flat and has taken the knocks that have come with what was the franchises and his ‘difficult second film’. The thirteen years spent on films like Necronomicon, The Dentist and Faust: Love of the Damned have allowed Yuzna to hone a talent that was so undeniable, so vibrant and refreshing and clear with Society. He’s come back to Herbert West’s story with a strong and distinct voice, his own voice – not the mimicry of a director past. This is apparent in every field of the film’s construction and none more than in the films reconfiguration of the score. For two films it sounded a cheap tinker-crafted rendition of an impressive and inspiring Hermann piece, a piece belonging to another film. Now it announces it’s own voice, it’s own rhythm and is wonderful, atmospheric and distinctive. Yuzna has torn apart all components to see how Re-Animator works and in doing so has delivered an incredibly creative and entertaining (let’s not forget fitting) end to a story that lives in a genre that rarely allows for such a fine final chapter. Yes there are issues with the film, yes yes I know but it's too much fun and has too much of a loveable personality to really hold them against it and if you don't believe me I have two words to win you over...penis...boxing!
Beyond Re-Animator is a ballsy, inventive and atmospheric statement movie which no longer tries to be a ‘H.P Lovecraft’ tale and is happy being exactly what it is, a ‘Herbert West’ tale.