‘Beau Is Afraid’ leaves filmgoers afraid


Collegian | Madelyn Hendricks

Christian Arndt, Life and Culture Director

“Beau Is Afraid” is a tour de force of haunting and supernatural events paired with a sick and twisted sense of humor.

“Beau Is Afraid” was created by the brilliant mind of Ari Aster, who created “Hereditary” and “Midsommar,” some of the most recognizable and stunning horror films of the last decade. Although Aster is known for shocking and exciting horror, “Beau Is Afraid” takes a different approach to Aster’s iconic horror. This go around, “Beau Is Afraid” takes a darker comedic turn while still keeping its horror roots in the forefront of the plot progression.


The story follows Beau, a nervous and anxiety-ridden middle-aged man who is tasked with visiting his mother in a nearby state.

Due to disturbing circumstances and strange happenings, Beau initially backs out of traveling home, but due to a sudden and shocking twist, he eventually decides to embark on the trek back home.

What follows is an odyssey of Beau going through surreal situations, all of which slowly exposing why and what Beau is truly afraid of. 

In classic Aster form, the story is filled with plenty of twists and turns, leaving the viewer with a sense of wonder and suspense that remains consistent throughout the film.

The acting in “Beau Is Afraid” is stunning. Joaquin Phoenix’s performance of Beau is very compelling and the portrayal of this specific character goes much further embodying what is in the script. Phoenix perfectly encapsulates how anxiety and fearfulness of the world can affect nearly anybody through his tone, body language and delivery, all of which make Beau a very interesting character study. 

The additional performances throughout the film contribute to the plot in a fantastic way and make the film feel alive.

The cinematography is something to marvel at. Aster’s direction paired with the excellent cinematography of Pawel Pogorzelski give “Beau Is Afraid” a unique level of depth that is absent from most films. The film has no shortage of experimental shots, innovative lighting and excellent composure.

Sound design and soundtrack also play a big part in the storytelling. Just like in Aster’s previous films, the use of droning ambiance, suspenseful music and intricate sound placement is refreshing throughout all of its almost three-hour runtime.

Finally, another thing to note is the use of comedy in the film. At plenty of points, there were moments of high tension and horrific events, but surprisingly there were plenty of dark jokes to accompany these scenes. Every joke hit right on the mark and had the theater laughing at each one.


“Beau Is Afraid” has plenty of incredible aspects but also has some elements that, unfortunately, fell flat.

At numerous points throughout the movie, we are introduced to characters the audience thinks are important, but they end up disappearing nearly 10 minutes after being established without having any closure or explanation of where they went.

Another aspect of the film that did not impress was the pacing. “Beau Is Afraid” totes a nearly three-hour run time and utilizes it nearly perfectly, but certain aspects and scenes of the film went on far too long and could be frustrating to watch for some viewers.

Although these downsides are often prevalent and sometimes glaring, it does not necessarily detract from the overall horror and, ultimately, the entertainment of the film. It’s fun, disturbing, funny and interesting all at once. 

“Beau Is Afraid” is yet another masterstroke of cinema from Aster that involves plenty of disturbing imagery, dark comedic moments and an exceptional amount of phallic imagery. Aster continues to breathe fresh air into modern horror cinema, and “Beau Is Afraid” is nothing short of it. “Beau Is Afraid” is a necessity for Aster fanatics and horror fans alike and serves as an all-around interesting and fun watch.

Reach Christian Arndt at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.