TIFF 2013: Almost Human Review

TIFF-2013-Almost-Human

Okay, this poster is amazing.

There’s a gross-out moment at the climax of Almost Human that could become an infamous moment in the horror genre. It’s definitely shocking, and it’s a scene where you sit wide-eyed and open-mouthed in a stupor, quietly wondering how the event unfolding on-screen actually made it up there. It’s ridiculous, inventive, and shows that the makers of the film have really twisted minds.

Unfortunately, the film doesn’t work as a cohesive whole.

The biggest problem with the movie is the dialogue and a large plot hole. The opening of the movie quickly introduces all the major players during the middle of alien encounter. Seth (Graham Skipper) frantically reaches the home of his pals Mark (Josh Ethier) and Jen (Vanessa Leigh) to tell them that something strange is going on. He explains that the group’s other friend, Robert, was abducted by a “blue light” and has disappeared. Naturally, the characters think Seth is crazy. That is, until they hear an ear-splitting noise and see a wave of blue. By the end of the scene, Mark has also been abducted and Jen blames Seth for his disappearance. So far, so good.

Except Robert (a.k.a “the other friend”) is never mentioned again. It’s a bit strange that the opening of the film makes a big deal about Robert’s disappearance (I’m pretty sure that’s the first line) and then the characters completely forget about him. Mainly because the film is Mark’s movie. After being gone for two years, Mark inexplicably reappears in a Maine forest, completely naked and with something a little off about him. It could be that he slaughters practically everyone he meets and has a long green egg-spewing tentacle that attaches itself to human hosts. Yeah, it’s probably that.

Anyway, the film loses steam whenever it draws the attention away from Mark’s killing spree and back to the “plot” of the film as told by Seth and Jen. Y’see, Seth has been having weird dreams – just like he had before the “blue light” – and he tells Jen (who he hasn’t seen in two years) that he thinks Mark may be back, without having a shred of proof about it.  He then asks for her number to contact her in case anything happens. Oh, and let’s remind you that Jen, after Mark’s disappearance, told the authorities that she though Seth had something to do with it. But when they meet up, she tells him that she knows he couldn’t have had anything to do with. The dialogue is very contradictory and mechanical. It basically exists to (a) bring the characters back together again, (b) provide Seth with Jen’s contact information for later in the film and (c) gloss over the drama of the past two years (Seth is incredulous that Jen has moved on and has a new fiancee – to which she replies that she hasn’t seen him in two years). It’s too bad that these scenes feel distracting rather than informative, and they do nothing to develop the characters.

Almost Human has a strong beginning (there’s still a bit of cringe-worthy dialogue in there, but it’s forgivable) and some unbelievable gore and gross-out sequences. This is the director’s first feature film, and it shows a lot of promise. There’s moments of brilliance in the movie (that “have-to-see-it-to-believe-it” scene is one of them) and is indicative that there is some real talent in front of, and behind, the camera. This will be a great calling card to get their second feature made, and I bet that one will be a doozy.

Grade: C

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