The Beast of Bray Road is certainly not an A-List picture, and to put it mildly it is very rough around the edges. The budget must have been extremely low, production values are negligible, and while there is a legend in Wisconsin concerning what may be a "real" beast of Bray Road, the film's claim to be based on a true story is plainly a gross exaggeration. On top of all that, the script populates the small town that is its setting with hardly anybody but unlikeable rednecks, the worst sort of white trash that you're often only too happy to see get torn limb from limb by the ravenous werewolf.
But despite it all, I had a lot of fun watching The Beast of Bray Road last night, so much so that it probably won't be too long before I watch it again. The story itself is built on a reliable formula, that of a small town beset by an unidentified monster which just might be something supernatural. Foruntately, our small cadre of heroes are more likable than most of the supporting characters. The protagonist is a local cop, but even so he's from the Big City and the locals mostly see him as an outsider not to be trusted. As our hero slowly puts the pieces together, he gradually comes to the realization that the predator he's looking for may spend most of its time hiding in plain sight as one of the townsfolk he's sworn to protect--even if they hate him for it. A cryptozoologist, drawn by the lure of fame and renown, shows up to lend the esoteric knowledge it takes to track down a werewolf, and aided by the deputy's beautiful almost-girlfriend and the rest of the rather clueless police squad, they put the truth together piece by piece, leading to a climactic hunt for the bloodthirsty monster in the dark of the forest.
Yes, this is a b-movie, but so what? It lacks polish and while its tough to ignore the obvious lack of funds, the picture still puts together a suitable atmosphere that, despite its official setting in Wisconsin, could be a small town almost anywhere in the USA. Direction is competent, with some creative shots worked in throughout the movie, and the acting is for the most part more than acceptable. The script does take some bold jumps in logic that require more than a little suspension of disbelief on the viewer's part, but that was okay with me. The werewolf itself is exceptionally well-done, and though we only see it a few times head-on, the eponymous Beast is very fearsome. Despite the low budget, the kills are pretty elaborate and gory, if you're impressed by that sort of thing. The big reveal near the end is quite a surprise, and the climax highly suspenseful.
This is a movie that would be pretty easy to pick apart, if you really wanted to. There's no denying its weaknesses, but it also has quite a few strengths. If the cast and crew don't have the tools to make a first-class blockbuster, they make up for it with a remarkable level of enthusiasm and dramatic flair. Together, everyone involved helps to create a story that is entertaining enough to overcome any inherent shortcomings. Thanks to an impressive werewolf, a simple but sound plot, surprisingly good acting, and a nice atmosphere, The Beast of Bray Road adds up to be more than the sum of its low-budget parts.
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