BIEST

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by Stefan Müller

grade: 6.5

Biest was made with a very low budget. Yet despite this, Stefan Müller managed to make a generally worthy little feature film, albeit with some basic naivety.

Mysterious disappearances

Shooting a horror film with monsters, atmospheres, an important cast and a small budget. Can it be done? If you find the right solution to combine all these elements in an intelligent way, undoubtedly yes. Despite the many difficulties involved. Despite the need to adapt to certain situations and to sometimes make ‘obligatory’ choices. This, then, is what independent filmmaker Stefan Müller did when, in 2014, he made Biest, a small, passionate horror film set entirely in the mountains of Styria.

Biest, therefore, makes use of a small but good cast and evocative landscapes in order to stage a simple yet potentially interesting story. Especially with regard to the disturbing atmospheres derived from the fear of the unknown in us all. Andi (played by Paul Hassler) and Lena (Stephanie Lexer) are a young couple in crisis. In order to try to solve their problems and regain their lost serenity, the two decide to spend a few days in a mountain cabin. Here, however, rather strange things happen: the wife of one of their neighbours (played by the great Peter SImonischek) has mysteriously disappeared. Then, suddenly, Lena also disappears. It will be Andi, then, who will try to figure out what is behind these mysterious disappearances.

As already stated, Biest was made with a very low budget. Yet in spite of this, Stefan Müller managed to make a good, small feature film, albeit with some basic naivety. Long silences, sophisticated totals and views of the immense snowy valleys and mountains of Styria, little dialogue and a good chemistry between the two protagonists characterise the entire film. A film that does not make use of any particular special effects, that plays skilfully with light and shadow and that plays mainly on the ancestral fears of the human being.

Fundamental in this respect is the management of space and the role of the location itself. The two protagonists find themselves in a totally isolated place. No one – except for their neighbour – knows where they are. A deafening silence surrounds their chalet. And then, last but not least, there is the forest. A forest guardian of the most frightening secrets and every unconscious fear. A forest and an old house that play an equally fundamental role.

Yet, overall, Biest does have some problems. And this mainly concerns the screenplay. A screenplay that is extremely simple and not completely original, if one considers that the director wanted to make a feature film from it. For a short film, the script would undoubtedly have been more suitable, but here too, Stefan Müller managed to find a satisfactory solution. And this is where the environments and landscapes come into play again. Environments and landscapes enhanced to perfection by an attentive and passionate camera. Environments and landscapes that fascinate and disturb at the same time, showing us that, indeed, even with a low budget and a small crew a story can come to life on screen more alive than ever.

Original title: Biest
Directed by: Stefan Müller
Country/year: Austria / 2014
Running time: 65’
Genre: horror
Cast: Paul Hassler, Stephanie Lexer, Peter Simonischek, Marian Cencic
Screenplay: Stefan Müller
Cinematography: Martin Schneider
Produced by: Fly Oli, LOOM, RuntimeError

Info: the page of Biest on iMDb