Almost Human (2013)
Directed by Joe Begos
In the late 1980s the VHS phenomenon helped pave the way for the horror genre. From the Beta classic Scream Dream to little known gem Without Warning, the low-budget horror scene was discovered by future aficionados of the genre, and several of the flawed yet cheesy films are still very much worshiped by many to this very day. Up-and-coming director Joe Begos’ Almost Human is a throwback love letter to this wave of horror, and just like numerous films from the past, it exhibits an all too familiar level of mediocrity that plagued many of the Gen X horror classics before it.
The film placates the easily nostalgic right off the bat by having it take place in a small community in Maine while showing off a Halloween-inspired font on the title screen. It takes us back to one fateful night in 1987 when Seth (Skipper) sees his best friend, Mark (Ethier), get beamed out in a blast of eerie fluorescent light from the sky. Two years later, Mark returns as a killer alien, and Seth and Mark’s old girlfriend, Jen (Leigh), must work together to stop Mark from invading the small town, which leads them on a grisly fight to the finish.
As far as low-budget indies go, Almost Human is fairly self-effacing and delivers the gory goods forgiving horror fans will cheer for. On the other hand, those who are more critical will not be able to ignore the film’s shortcomings—despite its noble intentions. It has a great attention-grabbing opening sequence, and the last act is full of entertaining bits of chaos (one bit involves a rape/insemination scene that proves to be one of the film’s most creative, albeit exploitative, highlights). However, in spite of the fact Almost Human has a runtime of just 80 minutes, the entire second act lingers due to its substandard acting, unnecessary scenes and off-screen kills that only manage to underwhelm a generation of filmgoers who have no understanding of the phrase “Be Kind and Rewind.”
Although Almost Human delivers on raw, hyper-violent imagery and has a soundtrack that will remind gorehounds of fond memories from the horror section of their childhood video store, it ultimately would have served better as a 30-minute short as the film struggles at times to feel complete as a full-length feature.
Almost Human is certainly not the breakout throwback horror movie popular film festivals wants you to believe it is; however, director Begos does show potential, and his admiration for the horror genre does not go unnoticed. Given a bigger budget, there is no doubt in this reviewer’s mind that Begos’ follow-up project will definitely exceed even the most cynical viewer’s expectations.
3 out of 5