Can’t overcome its amateur qualities to become the fun genre pastiche it so desperately wants to be.
Writer/director Joe Begos has fashioned Almost Human, his debut feature, as a love letter to 80s horror/sci-fi schlock. The film opens with Seth (Graham Skipper) arriving at his friend Mark’s (Josh Ethier) house in a frenzy. Seth tells Mark and his girlfriend Jen (Vanessa Leigh) that aliens are after him, but before they can react blue lights and blaring sirens incapacitate all of them. Mark gets sucked into space, while Seth and Jen are left to figure out what happened.
Flash forward two years, and Seth is still having a hard time recovering from what happened. Jen, on the other hand, is engaged to a new man and wants to forget about what happened to Mark. Meanwhile, two hunters a hundred miles away discover Mark lying naked in a forest. It turns out Mark is actually some sort of body snatched version of him, whose express purpose seems to be murdering and reproducing. After brutally disposing of the two hunters, Mark proceeds to slaughter every single person he comes into contact with as he makes his way to see Jen.
Begos’ film is clearly a labour of love, but good intentions can only get people so far. Almost Human is supposed to be a genuine attempt at making an 80s-esque B-movie, but it’s too shoddily put together to work this way. Think Slither, but without any of the fun or craftsmanship. Running at a scant 76 minutes (technically just over 60 as the credits are about 8 minutes long), Almost Human barely leaves an impression before it’s over.
Problems lie mainly with the writing and acting. None of the characters feel distinct, and are largely forgotten once they aren’t on screen. Mark, looking like an insane lumberjack, is the only memorable character because of his Terminator-like killing spree. Begos’ visual style is bland, relying on grain filters to emulate the 80s time period the film takes place in, and the first two acts have a wash-rinse-repeat quality to them as a result (Mark kills people, Seth and Jen feel like something is wrong, repeat).
By the time Almost Human kicks into its Cronenberg-esque climax, the film has generated more yawns than thrills. There’s nothing wrong with doing a straight-up piece of genre filmmaking as long as one can pull off familiar genre elements well enough to make them exciting again (You’re Next and The Conjuring successfully did this last year). Almost Human can’t overcome its amateur qualities to become the fun genre pastiche it so desperately wants to be.