Story by Nicholas Zuniga
Ari Aster, known for his production of horror films like “Hereditary” (2018) and “Midsommar” (2019), has left fans in confusion once again. Aster worked with A24, the same production company that produced the hit movie “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (2020), to create “Beau Is Afraid” (2023).
Slight spoilers ahead. (you have been warned)
Beau is a man who struggles with mental health while living in a crime-ridden city; this theme of mental health and crime is apparent throughout the whole film. In regards to mental health, Beau is someone who struggles with anxiety. Anxiety and fear being two prevalent feelings in Beaus mental health, the audience gets to witness and even share this sense of anxiety/fear throughout the movie’s obscure plot.
There are several moments throughout this story which could cause extreme discomfort in the viewer (gun violence, police brutality, gore) so be aware of your own head space prior to sitting down for this film.
A big part of the film is discerning which parts are ‘reality’ and which parts are purely Beau’s imagination. There are moments in this film where you see into Beau’s past and possible future; causing some confusion when trying to follow a single plot line. All of this occurring over three hours, it caused exhaustion and boredom at times. Had editors at A24 removed 30 minutes, this film could have been a better and more cohesive story.
After some contemplation about the film, I believe producers wanted to convey how we as a society tend to make a spectacle out of individuals who struggle with mental health. The film ends in a coliseum, with the credits rolling while we see viewers from the coliseum gradually leave their seats. This happens after a very dramatic scene where Beau is begging for help, but to no avail. Additionally, the fact that we as viewers go to see a film titled “Beau Is Afraid” is telling of how society derives entertainment from someone else’s suffering.
If you are a fan of experimental horror films or Ari Aster, “Beau Is Afraid” may be an intriguing movie for you. However if scary movies aren’t really your thing, it would be safe to skip this film and save some time.