Susan T. Travers
Anthony Amaral III
Michael A. LoCicero
Every now and then a film gets a big surge of momentum and gains some popular word of mouth. Almost Human is one of those films. While sharing its name with last year’s ill-fated action sci-fi show on the FOX Network that was cancelled before the end of the first season, the film has actually become notable due to pretty positive reviews coming out of its debut at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and its throwback to another era of horror.
The film begins with a man named Seth (Graham Skipper) rushing to his friend’s home in a panic. Once arriving there his friend Mark (Josh Ethier) tries to calm him down and find out what is going on. Apparently on his way over with a mutual friend Rob (who is never seen) a blinding flash occurred and took Rob into the sky. Things start going awry with Mark not truly believing Seth and they are interrupted by Mark’s fiancé Jen (Vanessa Leigh) before they are all blinded by another flash. Mark then walks outside where he is apparently abducted. Two years later, a nearby town is plagued by the same flashes of light, leading Seth to seek out Jen who has moved on her with life and has a new fiancé, all the while Mark has returned and is making his way back home and leaving a trail of bodies in his wake.
There is so much to like about Almost Human for horror fans, but it is far from a perfect film. As I have already mentioned the film is a throwback to low-budget 80s B-movie horror, and in this aspect, it succeeds greatly. The film has a fantastic opening sequence, but then slows down dramatically to set the stage with some character work. Unfortunately, two of the three main leads simply can’t handle these scenes the way they are needed to be. Both Graham Skipper and Vanessa Leigh are just not good enough actors to lend the film the much needed gravitas that it needs while setting the stage for the rest of the mayhem that is to come. Thankfully Josh Ethier does a fine job in his role, although he mostly exists as a mindless tool of death so he isn’t asked as much.
In terms of the gore, they do a fine job. Most of the death result from gunshots or the use of items like knives and axes. Everything looks to be prosthetic, which is of course always a win. None of the death scenes are extraordinary but they all work within the confines of the film. What Mark does with the bodies after the fact that is intriguing and at times (specifically the last one he does) rather gross.
First time director Joe Begos definitely shows an immense amount of potential. Never do you really get the idea that you are watching a novice at work, he has a steady hang of what he is doing, and I thoroughly look forward to the next film that he helms. If he is given a larger budget and some better actors, I can see him breaking out on the level of beloved genre directors The Soska Twins or Astron-6. Given that those directors also have a focus on taking fans back to the heyday of horror, it’s not farfetched to see Begos in that same party of talent.
Thankfully Almost Human has been made freely available to anyone who has access to Netflix Instant streaming, meaning that from this point the film can only continue to keep getting a bigger audience. If you have the opportunity and an hour and a half to spare, you could do much worse! As well, it never hurts to support young talent trying to have a good time with the genre!