Back in 1982, John Carpenter frightened the world with his alien horror flick, The Thing. Before Wilford Brimley was fighting diabeetus, presumably from eating far too many Quaker oats, he was kicking the ass of a shape shifting creature from another planet deep in the heart of the Antarctic.
When I was told about Almost Human, an IFC Midnight horror film, it was described to me as The Thing with slasher style. Now, as a horror geek, there isn’t a single word of that description that doesn’t sound attractive. So, when the opportunity presented itself to check out the film, I naturally jumped on it.
Starting in October of 1987, Almost Human tells the story of Mark (Josh Ethier) who went missing from his home in a flash of light. In his company at the time of his disappearance were his friend Seth (Graham Skipper) and girlfriend Jen (Vanessa Leigh).
Two years later, Seth begins having visions that Mark has returned home, but something isn’t quite right. Soon, horrible murders begin happening around town and it is obvious to Seth that Mark is back and is less than human.
As you may have guessed, Mark is, in fact, back. He is found naked in the woods covered in blue alien goo before he attacks the hunters who found him and steals their clothes Terminator style. He then proceeds to brutally murder everyone that crosses his path on the way back to town.
What kills me is that Mark is a large guy but his facial features are soft like a child so, while his stature might scream killer, his face makes him seem like an unlikely violent person. It is like watching a serial killing Care Bear. I suppose that makes him effective in the role if that was their goal all along.
The acting is generally mediocre with a few decent actors in the mix. Seth’s coworker at the hardware store is probably the best of them all but Mark’s role requires mostly facial expression, which he pulls off nicely. I blame most of the acting issues on the script since it’s probably difficult to even say some of these things with a straight face. There is one scene where Jen seems so confused over the fuzz station on the television that she approaches it slowly with a concerned look before finally turning it off. Nothing had happened to cause any confusion or concern for the television being on that station, leading her to approach it as such. It is very out of place and ridiculous. This type of thing happens more than once but we cannot expect John Carpenter perfection all the time.
Then there is the disgusting tentacle thing that comes out of Mark’s alien mouth to infect the dead with what is perhaps other aliens to make them live again but, like him, less than human. Think Der Kindestod from the “Killed by Death” episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, only the tentacle is coming from his mouth instead of his eyes. I definitely found myself making severe stink face while watching that thing come flying out onto a corpses face.
We are then left with an undead army of twitching alien filled corpses in a root cellar lead by the serial killing Care Bear, Mark and his weapon of high pitched noise from his mouth. While I can see where the comparison to The Thing comes into play, I expected a head with spider legs in place of the mouth foaming alien corpses. I was disappointed, to say the least.
I can see how Almost Human might entertain certain people. I personally prefer a bit more substance to gore but I have a feeling people will like this film. It’s not awful and I have certainly seen far worse. I would give it 2.5 stars out of 5. At the very least, you’ll get a laugh or two if you’re twisted like me.
Ann Hale is the horror editor for Pop-Break.com and a senior contributing writer, reviewing horror movies and television shows. She is also the American Correspondent for Lovehorror.co.uk. Ann attended East Carolina University, majoring in English Literature. She is a collector of Halloween (the film) memorabilia and is a self-admitted opinionated horror nerd. You can follow her, her collection and her cat, Edward Kittyhands on Twitter and Instagram @Scarletjupiter