The main problem with Almost Human is that its poster is almost cooler and more grabbing than the film itself. The feel of the film exudes a kind of B-movie charm and cult excellence that has crept its way into vogue over the past decade, thanks to a general boredom with the shiny glaze Hollywood seems to trail over any horror/sci-fi project it touches. Ignore the professional allure of the marketing, scrape away any preconceived notions and there’s still enjoyment to be had.
Joe Begos and his team are obviously passionate about their project and the genre it occupies, their love gushes, as do the 70’s references until Almost Human feels like a high school ode to the work of John Carpenter. The story of an abductee returned to convert the people of a small sleepy town is canon to say the least. Seth (Graham Skipper), who watched his friend get abducted, thinks something is up when townsfolk turn up murdered and goes on the hunt for his possibly half-alien friend. The cult feel isn’t just spawning from a sci-fi narrative, but in effects conception and sound too. The retro vibe of the film is appreciable and charming at points, but overall its execution is lazy. For a film set in the 70’s there are a few glaring errors that could either rupture your investment in the vibe or strike a point for the charming lunacy of the underdog horror film.
Almost Human seems to spend all of its 80 minute run-time dodging between an impressive, original, low-budget, first-time feature to dopey indie flick lacking in the IQ dept. For every stupid line of dialogue or woeful bit of acting there’s a contrasting sequence of genius effects and zany queasiness. Make no mistake; the most proficient parts of the film are its highly bogging effects which have the accomplished Cronenberg ability to turn your stomach.
Even for all its faults, the general direction of Almost Human proves a last point that Joe Begos is a young director to look out for. The many low points are in return awarded with moments of humour and well-shot violence that leave the viewer unsure as to whether they just saw something awfully good or just plain bad.
A bizarre venture into 70’s and 80’s sci-fi horror that can bore with its lowest points, but thrill with its best, Almost Human is for the most part dismissible. Bad acting, awful dialogue, and dodgy narrative are at points unburdened with impressive effects, well-edited action, and terrific direction.
10,11,13th September 2013(TIFF)
Graham Skipper, Vanessa Leigh, Josh Ethier