MRR Review: "Almost Human"

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox Television

Rating: NR
Length: 80 minutes
Release Date: September 19, 2013
Directed by: Joe Begos
Genre: Horror / Science-Fiction

"Almost Human," not to be confused with the television series, is a horror and science-fiction film about the disappearance of a man into a mysterious beam of light. Seth Hampton witnesses his best friend, Mark Fisher, disappear into the sky in a flash of blue light. Two years later, a string of gruesome murders occur, leading Seth to believe that Mark is back but with something evil controlling him. A combination of a slasher flick and an alien invasion, "Almost Human" has the presence similar to movies such as "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and "Fire in the Sky."

"Almost Human" is a typical horror film involving a lot of blood and gore. However, the movie has added elements of fun and excitement that are not commonly found in this type of film. The purposely cheesy alien-abduction flick also stimulates its audience by mixing in emotions of loss and grief. This unpredictably jarring movie has a certain rough charm about it, which is pleasantly surprising for a low-budget indie film.

Mark Fisher is played by Josh Ethier, who is also the editor of the film. Ethier, who has experience in editing horror films, does a brilliant job splicing and editing the movie to portray the producer's vision. Joe Begos' passion for horror led him to write, direct and produce this movie. This is not the first time Ethier and Begos have worked together. The two also worked together on a video short about werewolves known as "Bad Moon Rising." Amidst wearing many hats while filming his debut feature, Begos paid immense attention to details and focused on increasing the bloodshed, which is clearly evident to viewers of the film.

The character Seth Hampton is brought to life by actor Graham Skipper. Skipper is known for his roles in "Late Bloomers" and "Scratches." No stranger to horror, Skipper wrote and directed the short horror film "Scratches," which he co-starred in with Rachel Avery. The entire cast and crew of "Almost Human" brilliantly capture the spirit of classic B-line flicks while pouring their hearts and souls into this unique science-fiction slasher feature. Their competence goes beyond what is expected of this level of film.

It is apparent where Begos' inspirations come from for "Almost Human." Set in Maine in the late 1980s, "Almost Human" opens with the alien abduction of Mark Fisher, which happens to take place on Friday the 13th, then takes viewers two years later to his return when he embarks on a murderous spree. He is returned to earth naked and full of murderous intentions because he has been implanted with eggs by a villainous alien planning to create an alien army. When the abducted Fisher returns, he lands in Derry, which is a subtle reference to Stephen King's literature.

The storyline balances the lives of the girlfriend and best friend that Mark left behind. The girlfriend, played by Vanessa Leigh, suspects that the best friend Seth is responsible for her boyfriend's disappearance. The police also suspect Seth but are unable to find any evidence to support their theory. Seth is the only one who witnessed his friend's abduction, and he develops psychological issues because of it. Two years after the abduction he sees the same blue lights that took Mark and prepares for the unexpected.

"Almost Human" emphasizes the trials and tribulations of Seth's efforts to save his friend and the rest of the world from an alien invasion. His long and gruesome journey begins when he notices Mark's strange behavior and begins to investigate the reason behind it. It is revealed that Fisher is possessed by extraterrestrial parasites with the ability to manipulate their host's behavior. These evil parasites cause him to slaughter the people he meets and give him extraterrestrial abilities that are almost comical to watch. Seth eventually discovers the truth and foils the alien's plot to destroy Earth. Hampton comes to the realization that he is the only one who can save his best friend and stop the alien apocalypse from happening.

Similar to most alien apocalypse movies, "Almost Human" has a blue collar point of view, but the film leaves out any political parable usually associated with this genre. The lack of politics is a breath of fresh air from the usual nonsense. The simplicity of the script brings it back to the basics of horror films, which delights and pleases horror movie buffs. Although the movie moves at a slow pace, its gory effects and old-fashioned, straightforward slashing holds the audience's attention and keeps them squirming in their seats.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5