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Beguiled Company (2022)

average rating is 2 out of 5


Patrick Foley


Posted on:

Dec 23, 2022

Film Reviews
Beguiled Company (2022)
Directed by:
Tristan James Jensen
Written by:
Tristan James Jensen
Chance Gilliam, Jess Tomasko, Devyn Williams

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – a strange time to watch the angriest film of the year. Tristan James Jensen’s nihilistic fantasy Beguiled Company has a lot to say about society, yet lacks consistent themes, storytelling or engaging characters to convince viewers to join its titular gang on their revenge rampage.


When he is fired from his dishwashing job, Brenden (Chance Gilliam) gathers friends Ilisha (Jess Tomasko), Mason (Devyn Williams), Tino (Gabriel Hawk) and Sydney (Megan Thompson) to help him rob his former employer. Emboldened by their success, the 5 form a gang, buy a house and bond over drug-fuelled parties. But Brenden starts to set new targets for the group, like the 1%, alleged paedophiles, and their unreliable drug dealer, as the gang become uneasy with being their leader’s tool for lashing out at society.


Gratuitously violent, visually striking but narratively malfunctioning, Beguiled Company is at the very least an electrifying mess. At the core of its issues are around two and a half characters stretched into five, first-draft video-game villain dialogue and a storyline that can’t seem to decide what its actual point is – with poor overall storytelling to boot. Brenden is an utterly detestable lead, whose malicious sadism ends up far more off-putting than his supposedly deserving targets. In another version of this story, it is HE who would be the villain - with the far-more relatable Mason the story’s focus as Brenden’s tyranny is challenged. But writer/director Jensen seems to revel in Brenden’s viciousness – and his fatally negative traits rarely result in coherent consequence. Even at times when the group begins to question his leadership, they revert to joining him in brutalising others as soon as the story demands it – without so much as a hesitation suggested by their prior apprehension.


‘As soon as the story demands it’ more or less sums up the entire storytelling approach. The whole structure of the plot demands audiences abandon logic for the story to function – such as in a pivotal gang shootout in which the audience is aware that the scene is surrounded by armed police – who fatally shoot a character only to vanish from the plot despite numerous additional gunshots being let off between rival gang members right in their apparent vicinity, and subsequently doing nothing to prevent another character then fleeing from the location. Devices, characters and motives are summoned when necessary and disregarded when not – with Jensen hoping no-one will notice. Unfortunately, it leaves the plot holier than your Nan’s favourite Christmas carol.


Jensen’s talent as a director is evident from the intense, pounding cinematics and visuals. Imaginative editing and lavish framing and lighting of the photogenic cast create a sense of youthful exuberance, and echo the likes of Euphoria to make this as much of a coming-of-age movie as ultraviolent societal thriller. The much-discussed psychedelic drugs sequence allows impressive experimenting on behalf of the director and the cast – who refreshingly frame the experience as beautifully traumatic rather than turning into The Beatles. Were the film shorter, the crisp and creative cinematography may have been enough to cover up its flaws – but at feature-length, good looks just aren’t enough.


There’s a great film somewhere in Beguiled Company. One senses that in an effort to avoid a more conventional story (and to live out some badass fantasies) Tristan James Jensen has ended up muddling the plot and losing sight of the film’s purpose. More time should have been spent building the dynamics between the characters and improving the dialogue – as well as recognising when the story is crying out for a change of direction. Viewers will certainly not be bored at least, and the breakneck visuals and pulsating experimentation act as something of a saving grace.

About the Film Critic
Patrick Foley
Patrick Foley
Theatrical Release, Digital / DVD Release, Indie Feature Film
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