The 10 Most Brutal Moments In Idris Elba's Beast, Ranked

Major spoilers for "Beast" follow.

Director Baltasar Kormákur's "Beast" is Hollywood's latest attempt to make audiences afraid of the sheer power and ferocity of nature. The film draws influences from classic creature features like "The Ghost in the Darkness," "Jaws," and even "Jurassic Park." Its 90-minute runtime and straight-to-the-point narrative give viewers a lean, action-packed b-movie featuring A-list talent both in front of and behind the camera. 

In "Beast," Idris Elba plays Nate, a father who must protect his family from a vengeful lion on a safari gone awry. Sharlto Copley joins him as Martin, Nate's best friend and resident lion expert. As usual, both actors are great. However, the film's real MVP is the camera work. Entire sequences play out in single takes, with the camera moving in and around the action, not allowing either the characters or the audience to escape.

With a bloodthirsty lion stalking Nate and his family and an R rating, there's bound to be some brutality in "Beast," right? While the film isn't as violent as "The Ghost in the Darkness," it does have a fair amount of gore, and several tense sequences are sure to wreak havoc on viewers' nerves. Here, we've ranked the moments that shocked, thrilled, and grossed us out the most, so get ready to embark on a safari starring one mean Mufasa.

10. Poachers kill a pride of lions

"Beast" opens with a caravan of illegal poachers sneaking up on a slumbering pride of lions. Before the audience can even process what's happening, gunshots ring out, and the poachers murder the animals in cold blood. When they move in to examine the carnage, however, they discover that one has gotten away. Quickly, the hunters load up the carcasses and venture off to hunt the survivor, fearing that it will come back for them. Of course, it does; otherwise, there'd be no movie.  

Lions should be feared, of course, but they're also majestic animals that are in danger of going extinct, thanks largely to illegal poaching. As such, the poachers' surprise attack while the creatures are sleeping is extra-cowardly. While this sequence doesn't actually show much violence, the callous nature of the attack adds to its brutality. It's tough to watch, but it's a great way to dive into the film's driving question — maybe humans are the movie's villain? — right from the start.

9. Martin cauterizes his wound

Sharlto Copley is an incredibly underrated actor. Don't believe us? Go watch "District 9," then get back to us. In "Beast," he brings that same charm and sense of instant relatability to Uncle Martin. The chemistry between Copley and Elba is quickly established during the film's first few minutes, making it all the more exciting when Martin goes after the blood-thirsty animal alone in order to protect Nate and his family. After Martin is attacked and hobbled by a leg injury, with the lion using him as bait to catch the others, Nate instructs him via walkie talkie on how to cauterize his wound so that he doesn't bleed out.

The on-screen violence in this sequence is sparse, but effective. When Martin is attacked, the camera cuts away, leaving both Nate and the audience eager to find out what happened. In addition, if a bone-deep wound isn't stomach-churning enough, we have to watch as Martin nervously heats his knife and shoves the burning blade into his injury. Copley's performance sells the intensity of the moment more than gratuitous, bloody images could. Sure, the lion using Martin as a lure to trap the others makes it seem supernaturally intelligent, but "Beast" is just that kind of movie. Try to suspend your disbelief and have fun.

8. The animals strung up by poachers

This moment is more of an extended shot, but that doesn't discount its effect as another example of the poachers' inhumane treatment of safari animals. Nate and his daughters take refuge in an abandoned school after his eldest, Meredith, suffers a severe stomach wound from the lion's claws. Nate's youngest, Norah, explores the building for supplies and instead finds the hanging lifeless bodies of several animals. It's like what would happen if Leatherface killed animals instead of co-eds.

Once a place for educating nearby mine workers' children, this school has been turned into a poacher's murder shack. Norah's reaction of silent horror says it all as she looks up to see the animals' lifeless eyes staring back at her. The glimpses of violence we get and the knowledge their bodies are awaiting an even more grotesque end, being cut up and sold on the black market, is haunting. Yet another moment where it feels like the filmmakers are shouting at the audience the humans are the real monsters.

7. The lion's first attack

Viewers first see the titular beast moments after the poachers kill the rest of its pride. Screams echo in the dark of night, followed by a poacher stumbling backwards, grasping at his bleeding neck. While the rest of the poachers leave with the carcasses, an unlucky few stay behind to finish the lion off. The last one standing finds one of his buddies bleeding from a bite; the vegetation rustles, and a set of paws thunder towards the camera. The poacher runs, screaming, only to be caught and hung upside down by one of his own traps. The lion lunges toward the camera, and the film smashes to black. 

The first attack serves as a great appetizer for what audiences can expect from the next 90 minutes. You'll get some gore, but the lion's share (pun very much intended) of the focus will be placed on generating tension, not blood. All in all, it's a solid opening with a great use of sound. It's also sweet poetic justice that the hunter is strung up by his own device and killed by his supposed prey.

6. Martin's sacrifice

Uncle Martin endears himself to the audience from the moment he appears on screen, primarily thanks to Sharlto Copley's performance. Later, as night falls, a wounded Martin and the girls are left in the jeep. The lion attacks through the open window, slashing at Meredith's abdomen. Martin pushes the children out of the vehicle seconds before it plummets off a cliff. The lion circles the wreck; that's when Martin notices the leaking gasoline. In an attempt to end the lion's hunt, he fires up his lighter and sacrifices himself.

This sequence makes our list because it combines an intense action beat with an emotional gut punch. When it begins, the camera slowly pans around the scene, letting us watch as each character searches the darkness for their savage stalker, culminating in a jump scare as the lion lunges through the window. Meredith has a very close call — it's a miracle that she escapes with only a slash — and the jeep's tumble down the cliff seems like a fun nod to "Jurassic Park." According to the laws of physics, of course, both the lion and Martin should definitely be dead, but it's much more bittersweet to see Martin go out in a literal blaze of glory. If only the lion had stayed down!

5. The first jeep attack

We know what you're thinking: The first jeep attack? Yeah, there are quite a few of those in the movie. Thankfully, each one is unique and harrowing in its own way. In this one, which comes right after Martin ventures off to hunt the lion solo, Nate hears a gunshot and goes to investigate. It's not long before Nate runs back to the jeep, eyes full of fear, and slams the door shut just before the lion smashes into the door.

The danger has been well established by this point. We've seen poachers and villagers alike mauled by the lion, so it's clear that all humans are on the menu. Even better, this is all filmed in what looks like a single shot, which doesn't give the viewer any room to take a break from the intensity. The camera follows Nate as he runs, swoops around to reveal the lion closing in, and then seamlessly jumps into the car with him. It makes us feel just as trapped as Nate and his family. The scene is already tense, but the cinematography and lack of cuts elevate this action beat into a relentlessly thrilling experience.

4. Nate trapped under the truck

The second jeep attack in "Beast" is even more intense. Nate grabs a tranquilizer gun and hops on the vehicle's roof, while Meredith inexplicably leaves the car to find Martin. The lion lunges at Nate, knocking him off the jeep. He manages to roll under it, but loses the gun in the process. Another impressive, circling single-take shot gives us close-ups on Nate, the lion lunging at him, and the tranquilizer gun just out of his reach. But, in the end, it's Norah who saves the day, grabbing a dart and jabbing it into the lion from above.

It's yet another well-crafted and brutally tense scene. The camera searches every bush for signs of the lion, only for it to creep into shot behind Nate. The visual effects look remarkably convincing, and the constant back-and-forth as Nate fends off attacks and tries to grab the gun, while the lion saunters off only to make a more aggressive approach, is fantastic. The camera work and Idris Elba's acting make this moment feel grueling and claustrophobic. It's so, so much fun to watch.

3. Poachers mauled by the lion

Eventually, the poachers return and find Nate and his daughters with the wounded Martin. The lead poacher recognizes Martin as an "anti-poacher" (someone who kills poachers for harming endangered animals) and drags the family out of the vehicle. Before anyone can react, the lion picks off someone in the distance. The poachers realize that it's the "one that got away" and fan out to find the beast. Most of the kills that follow happen off screen, but we hear the blood-curdling screams, and we do see the occasional bit of carnage, including two particularly gruesome bodies. 

Some moviegoers may be disappointed that this scene isn't as vicious as it could be, especially since, again, the poachers are the film's real villains. It would've been cathartic to see them ripped to shreds. However, the film instead focuses on its hero's point of view. The only gore we see appears when Nate comes upon a body. The corpses are pretty gnarly, though. The head on the first is barely hanging on, and the second has multiple gashes that are gushing with blood. It's just two quick shots, but it's effective nonetheless.

2. The aftermath of the attack on the village

The saddest sequence in "Beast" comes when Martin and Nate head to a local village, only to discover that nearly everyone has been slaughtered by the lion. Norah screams; her dad rushes to her rescue, fearing the worst, only to find his youngest daughter standing next to the body of a slain child. It's one of the film's most violent and emotionally devastating reveals.

Although brief in screen time, this is a gut-wrenching moment. Until now, we've only seen the lion attack poachers. That's not as difficult to swallow. After killing the rest of the pride, you may even think they had it coming. This, though, is a village full of innocent people, including children. They did nothing wrong, and had no weapons to use to fight back. The lion is attacking with the intent to kill, and it doesn't care who gets in its way. Not only is this a brutal moment, but it quickly establishes that not a single human in the movie is safe, no matter what they have — or haven't — done.

1. Nate versus the lion

The final battle between Nate and the lion is hands-down the most brutal moment in "Beast." By this point, the family has taken refuge in the abandoned school, but the lion appears again. In order to get the beast away from his daughters, Nate lures it into the plains. There, the lion pounces on him, and attacks without mercy. Nate does his best to punch, kick, and stab the creature, but it seems fruitless. When all hope seems lost, however, we realize what Nate's endgame is: He's lured his furry foe into another pride's territory. As we learned earlier in the film, lions don't like uninvited guests, and two male lions attack and kill the bloodthirsty beast once and for all. 

The entire movie has built up to this throwdown, and it does not disappoint. It features yet another uninterrupted shot, which doesn't allow the audience to turn away as the lion slashes away at Nate. The visual effects are seamless, and a hefty amount of blood is spilled. By now, "Beast" has thrown the suspension of disbelief out the window — just how many attacks Nate can withstand? — but Elba and the effects team sell the fight well. This duel is the film's crowning moment; it's ferocious enough to make us wince, but holds back just enough to keep us from becoming nauseous. Look, this is a movie about a man versus a lion. It's great to see them actually fight in the end.