Are you ready to be disturbed? Are you ready to be shaken to your core? Are you ready to leave a movie theater thinking “what the hell did I just watch?” Ari Aster (Hereditary, Midsommar) is without question one of the most brilliant writers/directors in modern horror, and his new A24 behemoth of a film Beau is Afraid—coming in at 3 hours and 15 minutes—is poised to be one of the most polarizing movies of the year. And while it absolutely will not be for everyone, it was, in fact, for me.
Joaquin Phoenix stars as the titular Beau, in a movie that tells its audience immediately that they’re watching a heightened world where everything for its sad-sack protagonist is at its horrifying and anxiety-inducing most. You’ll spend much of Beau is Afraid wondering how much of the movie you’re watching is really happening, and how much is a hallucination, eventually seeing things devolve into what’s almost a David Lynch-esque abstraction of real life and pure nightmares.
Less a horror than a surreal existential dread bonanza, Beau is Afraid is also quite funny throughout. It’s hard for a 3 hour and 15 minute movie to not be boring, but this movie somehow makes that time fly. By the end, you may love it, and you may very well hate it—but either way, it’s a ride worth taking.
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