‘Back on the prowl’
American Beast aka Beast of Prey – original title: Solitude – is a 2014 American horror anthology feature film co-directed by Livingston Oden and Taylor Scott Olson from a screenplay they wrote with Jana K. Lensing. The Ensomhet Films production stars Armin Habibovich, Victoria LaChelle, Brent Latchaw, Alex Cotant, Glen Stone, Kelly Lavasseur, Amy Correll and Nicole Kruex.
Solitude takes place over a span of 75 years on a mysterious riverfront piece of land where an ancient evil dwells. The story is told in six segments, each of them taking place in a different time period and each of them made to look like horror films of when they take place.
In 2014, James Erikson finds an old storage locker filled with journals and newspapers of his family’s history. As he researches it, he finds out about the evil that his family has tried to contain for several generations.
Besides present day, the other segments in this film are as follows:
1939 – Frank Erikson is a scientist doing research in North Dakota when a mysterious monster attacks his research team. This will be reminiscent of classic monster movies of the time period, such as “The Mummy” or “Frankenstein”.
1961 – Frank Erikson returns to the Solitude River to try to destroy the monster once and for all. This segment is influenced by Alfred Hitchcock’s films, as well as B-movies of the 50′s and 60′s.
1977 – The 1977 segment follows Donald Erikson, Frank’s son who is a real estate broker and is planning on building river homes in Solitude, but does not realize what the land holds. It is in the style of supernatural horror films of the 70′s, such as “The Omen” or “The Exorcist”.
1986 – And here’s the slasher! A group of college friends are planning on spending a weekend camping and partying near the Solitude River, not knowing of the evils that dwell there. This segment takes influence from classic 80′s slashers such as the “Friday the 13th” or “Nightmare on Elm Street” series.
1999 – The last segment before present day is going to be found footage, similar to “The Blair Witch Project”. It follows a group of film students who heard the rumours of the deaths near Solitude and are shooting a documentary about them.
“The acting is such that it was hard to tell if the cast was playing their parts badly, straight, or tongue in cheek. So, how about the ‘beast’ in the film? Though in its element, lighted menacingly, and prerequisite growling, it looks much like a demented tree from the Lord of the Rings trilogy.” Jason Rhode, Cryptic Rock
“The mysteriousness of the creature in the film builds a lot of intensity. This is effective. American Beast has a tendency to linger and progress slowly. The creature holds suspense and keeps you anxious but it isn’t revealed until the last few minutes of the film. The fact that it doesn’t appear often was a little disappointing.” Stacy Cox, Decay Mag
” …it’s really just campy fun. (Early scenes reminded me of recent spoofs of the 1936 film Reefer Madness, including a musical where a flamboyant Jesus dances around with life size pot brownies to warn teenagers of the dangers of the “evil weed.”) If the cast’s aim in the movie was to spoof terrible acting in old horror films, they succeeded.” Flix Chatter
“I have an idea on what the creature was, but it was never stated. I understood who created it and how, but as far as what it was is never told […] American Beast has great special effects, an interesting story line, and an ending that lets you know all is not well.” A. Renee Hunt, The Horror Review
“Taylor Scott Olsen and Livingston Oden’s film really comes into its own for the final two chapters set in ’86 an ’99, the former being rooted in slasher territory, while the latter almost out-witches Blair Witch, while the boys script throws up the occasional curveball which weaves neatly through the intriguing narrative. A challenging watch for the causal genre fan, but this is a level of creative ingenuity we need more of.” Dave Wain, The Schlock Pit
Buy DVD: Amazon.co.uk
The film was released on DVD in North America on January 3, 2017, via Sony Pictures. Screenbound Pictures issued the film on DVD in the UK on 3 October 2016 as Beast of Prey.
Anoka and St. Cloud, Minnesota; Pollock, South Dakota