Firstly, I just want to say thanks to Marco Palese, producer of the Horror/Sci-Fi film “Beautiful People”. He sent me a screener of the film before it’s official Australian release date, which is March 18th. A quick shout out to Amerigo Brini, the director as well for giving it the all clear. I’ve had my eye on the film for over six months, I saw the above retro poster, and read a little bit about the synopsis which had me intrigued. The film was shot in Italy, and brings an array of different ethnicity’s together, which is something you don’t often see in this genre. “Beautiful People” is a home invasion film about John and Elena Pontecorvo (David White and Kate Marie Davies), and their two sons. They live a relatively quite life, in a secluded mansion in the woods. John appears to be a well-respected scientist, but hides his work from the family, the question is why??. One night, their home is invaded by three masked men, who have been responsible for several violent crimes in the area. The trio is led by alarming, Nibbio (Danny Cutler) who has recruited his apprehensive younger brother Brett (Alex Southern), and then there’s the enforcer of the group, Testamento (Alex Lucchesi). What happens when the masked men find out that all is not what it seems in the Pontecorvo’s seemingly normal home.
If you are a bit of a nerd like me, the original poster is the first thing to get pumped about when it comes to Beautiful People. The artwork for the Australian release just isn’t the same, and I’m disappointed about that. The home invasion sub-genre gets a bad wrap, and I’m really not sure why. Critics are quick to jump to conclusions about something like this without really giving it a chance. Don’t just say you hate because that’s what you think you should do, this isn’t ninth grade. Sure, the inclusion of masked invaders is on display yet again, yes it’s been done before and no doubt it will be done again. I for one don’t take issue with that after all, our homes are where we let our guards down. It’s the place that we feel safe because the idea of it is ours. So when that safety is compromised, it generally makes for some interesting and suspenseful storytelling. The first 45 minutes of Beautiful People reminded me a lot of the Spanish film “Secuestrados” or “Kidnapped”, either or. It was released back in 2010, and shocked the independent film community with its unrelenting, brutal depiction of crime in suburbia. It’s the last 30 minutes and the really cool twist in Beautiful People, that sets it apart from the aforementioned. Audiences will experience that uneasy feeling right from the opening frame, well before any of the nasty stuff actually starts going down. I respect the decision in the writing to come immediately out of the gates with guns blazing, especially in a film that only lasts 70 minutes. If your anything like me, 70 minutes in this environment will suffice (haha).
The technical aspects are all very well executed. The audio is very clear, and all the camera work and shot choices compliment the tone appropriately. The intense Steadicam stuff feels voyeuristic in nature, and that’s exactly how it should be, given the content. The lighting was the component that actually stood out the most. The choice to use a lot of white’s and grey’s, gave it that very bleak and gritty feeling. Compiled with the fact that two out of the three intruders were English, giving it another dynamic. This segues me perfectly into the cast, and the quality of their performances. Most of the acting was very good given the limited experience from most involved. Danny delivers the most intense dialogue, and Nibbio seems to think he’s being profound in someway, I guess in the same vein as other psychopaths might think they are. He maintains the intensity for most of the running time, and bar a few passages of flat dialogue does the job nicely. The rest of the cast was solid too. David has a lot of emotional stuff to pull off, which is hard at the best of times. With only a small amount of experience, some of it comes off feeling a bit forced, especially in the second half of the film. The acting by some guys who I’m guessing were Military, was just downright poor, fortunately it was only a very short scene. The last thing I want to touch on is the quality of makeup and effects work. The blood and gore effects were all practical and looked awesome. We get some graphic stuff early on, only five minutes or so into proceedings. By the end there’s some detailed monster makeup that was applied perfectly.
My only real issue with Beautiful People, was with some of the inconsistent details and plot points surrounding the family. The random mix of ethnicity’s was a little off-putting, and Lucchesi went in and out of his accent a few times as well. I think David White is an English actor, but at times some of his phrasing and enunciation came across Italian (maybe intentionally). I felt like a lot of the accents were inconsistent throughout. The story contains plenty of familiar tropes (those who have seen it will know what I mean). For the most part, It works in the context of this story but it’s definitely not original. There are a couple of painfully obvious holes in the story too. One that predominately stands out, involves John and Elena’s relationship and it’s inner workings. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I found that a very difficult revelation to swallow, simply because I thought it was quite clear. Most of the decisions that the family make are smart ones, however Elena has the chance to fight back several times and she doesn’t, I would have liked to see an attempt at least. A chance went begging during one scene, where she could have used a big rock and didn’t.
The main issue here though, is that everyone is so damn unlikable! I tried so hard to get behind just one of these people and I couldn’t. They were anything but beautiful and maybe that was the point. I respect the creative process though and the intention behind the writing, but as an audience member it can frustrate you. Fortunately, I am interested in every aspect of film making and there’s so much to like here. Certain revelations in the story might make you question your thought process, when it comes to what’s taken place. The character arcs are not quite rounded out, and the sexual violence most of which is implied, still remains difficult to watch, as it should. I can’t criticize the film for that, because if you don’t feel uncomfortable watching that kind of stuff, there’s something wrong with you. I suppose in a film like “I Spit On Your Grave” you’re a little more prepared for it though. BP’s graphic nature falls more on the sexual dialogue from Nibbio than it does with on-screen violence. That ending though, wow. What can I say about that??. Kudos to Brini and co, on their writing. They stuck to their guns and delivered a blunt and ballsy ending that most people won’t see coming. I’m not sure how to feel about it, but I commend them on not conforming to the norm.
I’d been looking forward to watching Beautiful People for a while now. I was hooked right off the bat. With its quick 70 minute running time, fast paced action and rough dialogue, it all works. The performances are mostly solid, and the practical monster/ blood and gore effects are as good as any European film in the genre. Congratulations go to Enrico Galli for designing the special effects, along with David Bracci and Alessandro Catalano for bringing them to life. There are some slightly idiotic plot points and poor decisions that get made, and no one really redeems themselves by the end. But, It’s not fair to say the ending will make or break the film, though it’s certainly something that is going to divide audiences for sure, but that’s a good thing. You’d rather your film be to one extreme or the other, or you just risk it falling in never-never land. Thanks again guys, great stuff!!
My rating for “Beautiful People” is 7/10