Peter Sefchik’s directorial debut, Behemoth, is an ambitious independent horror film that explores the willingness to do anything to save his daughter’s life from an evil corporation’s boss. Its themes of family, seeking the truth, and revenge all seem into one storyline that does not quite hit the mark. With the movie’s computer-generated monsters and creatures, their character designs are the only aspects that truly catch the eye.
When Joshua (Josh Eisenberg) suspects that the company he worked for ten years is responsible for environmental damage, he reveals the truth to the public. His daughter develops a mysterious illness. He suspects that the company is behind and plans to confront Dr. Luis Woeland (Paul Statman). Joshua and his friends Keelee (Jennifer Churchich) and Dominic (Richard Wagner) attend a protest to confront him about the truth behind the company and his daughter’s illness. But things do not go according to their plans and they end up kidnapping him, leading them to deal with hallucinations, monsters, and dark forces hiding behind their shadows.
Sefchik has worked as an artist and technician in many projects such as Star Wars, Avatar and Harry Potter, and his first feature film is a worthy debut considering its budget. It’s worth noting the details of the character designs, especially of the monsters, their skin and flesh ripped out to their bones. Behemoth is a VFX-heavy movie with monsters and mythical creatures from another world all packed into one. When Azello (Vadym Krasnenko), Dr. Woeland’s bodyguard, transforms into his true self, that is, a monster with horns, sharp teeth and bloody thirsty eyes, it is the most gruesome and carefully crafted character design in the entire movie. We do see shots of another creature that lurks behind the characters, but Azello is unlike anything else.
Considering these points on the character designs of the monsters, however, the story itself is flat and does not hold any kind of emotional impact. It’s a tale of a father obsessed with learning the truth of his daughter’s illness, but there are no moments between Joshua and his daughter that cements their relationship. His wife (Whitney Nielson) begs Joshua to spend time with their daughter instead of chasing after the truth. When the plan goes awry, Joshua goes deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole, unable to find an emotional connection with his daughter, and it is not convincing enough.
The biggest flaw of Behemoth is the middle act. After Joshua and his friends kidnap his former boss, they are trapped inside a motel room as the police search for them. This entire act is a confrontation between Dr. Woeland, Keeler, Dominic and Joshua, as the former tries to manipulate and create conflict within the group. It leads to unsatisfying subplots, mixed with bad acting and dialogue that is not put together well.
Despite all these flaws in Sefchik’s Behemoth, it is a decent film that examines a father’s desperate attempt to save his daughter. His determination to find the truth is a difficult journey as he hallucinates and fights monsters and gets him to an unexpected and unsatisfying end. It would be interesting to anticipate Sefchik’s next project. It’s a passion project limited to 7 crew members working together in multiple roles to make this movie. From the character designs to themes of fatherhood, Behemoth is a movie that has a problem with its story, and this is not up for a second watch.