As Kyle and Rachel Massy look forward to the birth of their first child, production on a TV show about their pregnancy captures a series of unexplainable and unexpected events that hint at the supernatural. After the show is canceled, due to complications, the director continues to investigate into what may be happening to Rachel and her unborn child.
Delivery: The Beast Within from the production team of Brian Netto and Adam Schindler combines the fears surrounding a troubled pregnancy and found footage to create a terrifying, tense thriller with a shocking, can’t-believe-I-saw-that conclusion. Netto and Schindler get the most out of the found footage sub-genre as they structure the film in a rewarding and engaging examination into the psyche of the mother-to-be. Each act is essentially split into a different approach to filming and presenting the narrative beginning with very broad world-inclusive strokes while ending by focusing in on the main characters with hand-held, found footage recordings. While the story follows the family, Rachel and Kyle, the film follows the director’s participation in their lives. First they are the subject of his television show; later they are an obsession with the behind the scenes footage; and, in the end, they are friends for which he is consumed with concern for their safety. The film sets up the story marvelously and ends on a frightening high note while the middle of the film is more of a mixed bag, struggling to stand out from other found footage films. However, due to the structure of the film, the characters themselves and the rewarding climax, Delivery: The Beast Within is a winner in its sub-genre.
The story behind Delivery: The Beast Within begins as if it were presented on a cable TV reality show about a young couple experiencing their first pregnancy. This provides the audience with a very comfortable, recognizable format to become invested in the characters and their story. But, sprinkled within the first act are little hints that something is not entirely right as the director is presented over the footage with ominous warning and foreshadowing. By the time, the couple head off to the hospital when Rachel begins bleeding, the emotions are high – the attachment to the characters and their plight is authentic. While the child survives the ordeal and the pregnancy continues, the television show does not – or, regrettably, the production’s future is as inconclusive as the pregnancy’s outcome. The behind-the-scenes footage continues to expose the horrors that await the young couple. Feeling attached to the family, Rick, the director, provides the family with hand-held cameras to continue capturing footage when the production team leaves. The Massy family and Rick face down the horrifying truth behind the unexplained events surrounding the pregnancy.
The structure the director-producer team chooses to film Delivery: The Beast Within is key to movie’s success. The opening scenes perfectly set up an emotional attachment to the characters and the story. It also sets up the producer/director of the television program into a likable but questionable outside party, at times feeling manipulative while at other times feeling genuinely involved in the family and their survival. It also helps that the focus of the narrative shifts from being very global, involving the world around the family, transitioning into the couple and their home exclusively. It increases the tone of the of the film, making it more and more personal as it continues. The opening scenes feel so familiar and so authentic that they lend a weight of believably to the more fantastical elements toward the end of the film. It is a fascinating and rewarding experiment in transition and contrast. Bravo.
The problems this film faces is that its second act takes its time to carefully set up and examine the characters and the situations – almost to the point of boredom, especially after the fast paced first act. It is far more a victim of the saturation of the sub-genre than its own decisions and structure. It is difficult to bring any fault to the story or the film makers for this issue, but given the product and the time it is being released, it suffers from unfair comparison – unfair being the key word. It also illustrates that the behind the footage segment of the film may be too unstructured, too middle-ground to be as captivating as the film needs in its second act. Where the first segment is engrossing in how it introduces and presents its characters and the final act is intimate, immersing its audience into the conclusion, the second act is neither resulting in flat narrative and exposition. Regardless, the director and cast keep things lively and engaging enough to remain invested and primed to enjoy the film’s thrilling climax.
Delivery: The Beast Within has a winning cast with Laurel Vail and Danny Barclay portraying a family that comes across authentic and real. Combined with the opening act’s structure, Vail and Barclay invite the audience to become invested in their story unlike many other characters in other found footage films are able to. The emotions for each other appear genuine and the fears and conflicts they encounter are never forced. They also come across as a caring, loving couple, even when their relationship is strained. They are the every-neighbor, they are the friends everyone has that is having a baby. Their ability to portray that specific couple goes a long way in drawing the audience into the film. Rob Cobuzio is particular fantastic as Rick, the producer/director of the television program. He is presented in a way that could have resulted in a slimy, manipulative character, self-centered and uncaring. But, Cobuzio enriches Rick with a warm personality that both elevates the character but never betrays the questionable underpinnings of his motivations. It makes him far more complex than expected.
While it is not the perfect movie nor an entirely frightening film, Delivery: The Beast Within is a terrific example of what the genre is capable of and what a little imagination and creativity can do for found footage. The opening of the film is surprisingly and refreshingly effective. It allows the directors to set up the story, the characters and the conflict in an engaging, fascinating and comfortable fashion which allows the frightening true found footage elements of the finale grow to be that much more effective and harrowing. Caring for the characters, for their survival, is always a good thing, horror film or not. Brian Netto and Adam Schindler succeed in setting that up. The film suffers unfortunately from being behind its own game. So many found footage films have come along before it that the bar has been raised. This makes the second act slower than intended. While this is unfair, it is also a cruel fact. However, the superb acting and direction prevent the film from becoming less than it deserves to be. And the story has a satisfyingly shocking ending that should surprise most viewers. Delivery: The Beast Within is a solid entry into the found footage genre.
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3.5 out of 5