“The Beast Must Die” premiered on AMC+ on July 5, but most people I know will only be able to watch it on regular old AMC, where it premiered on Monday night at 10. It’s not the next great British thriller, but it’s a good British thriller, one that’s worth checking out. The twists are entertaining, and the three lead performances by Cush Jumbo, Billy Howle, and Jared Harris are phenomenal.
Jumbo plays Frances, a woman whose 6-year-old son has been killed in a hit-and-run. The cops haven’t been looking very hard for the killer, although that may change now that a new detective — played by Howle — has taken over the case. In the meantime, Frances does her own investigating and ultimately goes undercover to live in the huge house of her wealthy, privileged leading suspect, Harris’s George.
Once Harris is in the picture, “The Beast Must Die” is a lot of dramatic fun. He is charming in a slimy way, he is a self-absorbed bully with no moral compass, and he controls his family — his fragile wife, his abrasive sister, his insecure young son — with his money. He is shifty as can be, and at moments we, along with Frances, wonder if he knows who she really is. But Harris keeps us guessing in the best ways. He doesn’t telegraph George’s cruelties, which is part of the power of his performance. He brings a light, faceted touch to it all.
In “Mad Men,” “The Crown,” and “Chernobyl,” in recent years, Harris has stood out. Here is yet another great Harris turn to add to the list.