Director – Joe Begos
Cast – Graham Skipper, Josh Ethier, Vanessa Leigh, Susan T. Travers, Anthony Amaral III, Michael A. LoCicero
Release Year – 2014
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I first learned of Almost Human while attending Texas Frightmare Weekend in Dallas, TX during the first weekend of May 2014. I was hanging out with Travis of Horror Movies Uncut, who was working the IFC Films tent for the event. While listening to him spew his knowledge I kept seeing the Almost Human poster behind him, and when I asked him if I should give it a shot he said “HELL YES”. I completely forgot about this film after the convention, but now that it has hit the Netflix scene I gave it a shot and can see why he said I had to see it. Almost Human is incredibly simple and has more flaws than I hoped for, but it excels on the elements that matter most – the horror and gore.
Two years after he was abducted from his home in an amazing flash of blue light, Mark Fisher has returned, and a string of violent murders follow in his wake.
The film begins with “The following is based on events that took place in Patten, Maine.” and the date is October 13, 1987. The opening sequence is incredible and writer/director Joe Begos does very much while employing very little. Atmosphere and sound are everything, and there is an especially heavy emphasis on the sound during the film’s scary scenes, including the highly tense opening. Fast forward a few years (15 minutes of screen time) and Mark is found covered in goo in a nearby forest. Shortly after this the first deaths occur, and they give us a preview of the carnage to come. Begos’ story relies heavily on character play, bringing together Mark’s former best friend Seth and his former girlfriend Jen. The two have not talked since Mark’s disappearance, but with strange occurrences going on around town they are brought together until they run into Mark and the conflict grows exponentially. Begos’ use of these characters was fine, but what really disappointed me was how Mark was used. He is basically an alien drone with no personality and nothing to offer the film aside from some very awesome kills. Now don’t get me wrong – the kills are awesome, but even mute killers like Michael Myers and Jason Vorhees have personality. Thankfully, there are plenty of kills and they are written in a brutally mean fashion, so there’s that to make up for most of the story’s faults.
Begos’ direction was pretty good and I marveled at his excellent use of sound. From the sound of aliens outside a home to the jolting screams they use to deafen and incapacitate their victims, he plays on the viewer’s sense of sound to perfection. His atmosphere is good, giving us dark and gloomy cinematography that ironically matches the films mundane storyline. The actors involved were OK but none of them gave performances that stole the show, especially Josh Ethier as Mark. Begos excels greatly though at the horror, scares, and kill scenes. His kill scenes were so epic I would pause the film and rewind just to watch each slaughter again and again. His execution is very full-frontal and we watch someone have their face smashed in with a rock while another has their head blown away by a shotgun blast to the face. Live action gore is used for all of the kills and I believe we only see minimal CGI which is quite an accomplishment for a modern day horror film. Sure some elements could have been better, but as I mentioned earlier – Joe Begos focused on what mattered most and that is enough for me to leave smiling.
Overall, Almost Human gets a lot of things right due to its emphasis on kills and overall horror. The story is pretty bland and is doubtful to engage the majority of viewers, but with such amazing kills adorning the screen you may not care very much about that.