Besides two effectively creepy performances by Eric Roberts and Lance Henriksen and an atmosphere of suppressed tension, all NATURE OF THE BEAST has going for it is a one-trick premise. If you spot the rabbit in this hat early, the film's technical expertise and camera choreography can't
compensate for the failure of this shock tactic to terrify.
Along the highways driven by paper products salesman Jack Powell (Lance Henriksen), a series of senseless slayings makes travel a risky proposition. Concurrently, a master thief has shorn a gambling casino in Vegas of a million bucks. Forcing his jittery company on Jack (a rabbity fella who never
takes his eyes off his suitcase), Adrian (Eric Roberts), a hedonist druggie, vigorously persuades Jack that they travel together.
When a waitress (Eliza Roberts) Adrian flirts with winds up torn from limb to limb, suspicion hovers around him. Despite Jack's panicky efforts at distancing himself, Adrian keeps a tight rein on him (even threatening Jack with a poisonous lizard). After Adrian parties with a retro-hippie couple,
Gerald (Sasha Jensen) and Dahlia (Ana Gabriel), the liberated duo get hacked to death in their van. Continuing his quarrel with Adrian at a Powell family cabin, Jack attempts ridding himself of his companion with a drug overdose and quickie burial. After a county sheriff (Brion James) drops by,
Jack is appalled to realize that Adrian has vacated his final resting place. Opening his treasured briefcase, milquetoast Jack shows his true murderous colors by adding Adrian, the casino crook, to his serial killing trophy list. Having outsmarted a typical prey, Jack returns to his mundane
suburban existence to rest up from a sales trip filled with commissions and grisly homicides.
Despite Henriksen and Roberts's dexterity as the felonious odd couple, NATURE OF THE BEAST is another aimless exercise in getting your jollies through sadism. Like THE HITCHER or THE ROAD KILLERS, this action flick shows little respect for logic or personalizing its victims. Its commentary about
the banality of evil is merely a chaser for all the bloodthirsty crime consumption viewers belt down. Although the director is no slouch at squeezing suspense out of his mise-en-scene (e.g. the quick tracking shot to the spot where Adrian used to be interred or the overhead angle on the car
rocking with the movie's first slaughter), the screenplay itself is tired goods.
Alert videoholics will discern that Henriksen is playing a moral majority sociopath and that mean-streaked Roberts is portraying the hopped-up crook rather quickly. Maybe the topsy-turvy guilt-play would have worked on an old episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," but it simply can't sustain a
full-length screenplay. In NATURE OF THE BEAST, it's only the ultimate role reversal that's supposed to soak us to the skin with fear. Arriving at that particular destination is hardly worth the evasive script detours; action fans have given this particular hitchhiker a lift too many time
before.(Graphic violence, extreme profanity, adult situations, sexual situations, substance abuse.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1995
- Rating: R
- Review: Besides two effectively creepy performances by Eric Roberts and Lance Henriksen and an atmosphere of suppressed tension, all NATURE OF THE BEAST has going for it is a one-trick premise. If you spot the rabbit in this hat early, the film's technical experti… (more)