June 8, 2014

Filthy Review - 'Almost Human'

Almost Human (2013)

Review by Jude Felton

Back in the day horror posters and vhs (as they then were) covers would be adorned with some seriously wonderful artwork. Quite often the artwork itself would far surpass the quality of the film itself, but you could almost forgive the publicity departments, because after all you would be treated to some great artwork. Almost.

Today, there are precious few examples of this talent on display. Too often films come complete with horribly generic “artwork”, which truthfully told isn’t really art at all, and comes almost as an afterthought. Fortunately, we are lucky enough to have a few filmmakers and, more importantly, artists who bless us with some fantastic posters and cover art. One such artist is The Dude Designs, and he is responsible for Almost Human’s terrific The Thing inspired cover image.

The problem with having such wonderful artwork, and this was very much the case back in the day, is that the film itself quite often has a lot to live up to. But you can’t judge a book by its cover, can you? No you can’t, but we still do.

Almost Human follows a couple of friends that bear witness, and one of which is taken in, an “alien abduction”, seemingly to never be seen again. However, a couple of years later he does return, and he isn’t quite the same man he once was. Cue axes, chainsaws, blood, grue and a surprising lack of any sort of real explanation.

This is a decent flick, one that is well made, with decent performances and plenty of bloody violence. It’s also one that falls short in terms of checking the plot for inconsistencies and a little more explanation. It’s all very well telling us that folk are abducted and that they come back changed, but you need a wee bit more depth to the story, especially when it’s a film that is well above average in terms of the technical side of things.

The other main talking point, for myself and the voices in my head, is the liberal use of 80’s horror love, on display. Call it paying homage, or showing your influences, or whatever you like, but Almost Human is a film that borrows a little too much from other films. From The Thing inspired artwork, which even continues in to the font used for the opening credits, through to winks, nods and blatant love for The Evil Dead, Re-Animator, The Hidden and any number of alien abduction flicks, there’s a lot of “influence” on display here.

I have no real problem with that, after all everyone has their influences, but when it distracts me from the film I am watching it does become a problem. Due to this I found it very hard to enjoy Almost Human as much as I would like to have. Maybe a little more subtlety, in terms of showing your influences, might be in order next time around?

Overall, Almost Human is an entertaining movie, of that there is no doubt, and I expect many younger viewers, who won’t notice the nods and winks, might get more from it. It is well made and it was great to see so many practical effects on display, but for me the flaws outweighed the pros.

Give it a rental, for sure, but don’t go in expecting Almost Human to live up to that beautiful artwork.

Almost Human is released on Blu-Ray and DVD by IFC Midnight on June 17th.

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