Almost Human

Joe Begos

BY Scott A. GrayPublished Sep 26, 2013

Joe Begos's debut full-length feature typifies the worst low-budget horror has to offer: bad acting, lazy writing, shoddy special effects, haphazard sound and zero vision backing the inflated ego of its maker. Really, the vanity it takes for the director to put "A Joe Begos Film" at the front of his first pointless, indulgent, adolescent on-screen wet dream is repulsive. What he's so proud of is a bland, derivative and, worst of all, irresponsible 80 minutes of cinematic effluvium.

Borrowing liberally from Fire in the Sky and The X-Files, Almost Human is a latrine-scraping slasher flick wearing the taxidermied carcass of a run-of-the-mill alien abduction story. Its setup is simple enough: Seth Hampton (Graham Skipper) shows up at his buddy Mark's (Josh Ethier) house one night, raving about a mutual friend being taken by a blue light. The initially sceptical lumberjack goes outside to investigate and is sucked into the sky by a cerulean spotlight himself.

Two years later, Seth is a paranoid wreck; he can't sleep or hold down a job and many members of the community suspect him of murdering his friends, despite a complete lack of evidence. When reports of inexplicable meteorological phenomena similar to that surrounding the conditions of the previous abductions surface on the local news, Seth reaches out to Mark's ex-girlfriend, Jen (Vanessa Leigh), the only person that might understand his anxiety and concern. Meanwhile, two hunters stumble across a naked man in the woods, who shrieks with an eardrum-piercing modem voice before giving them a gristly send-off to the land of worm food.

For the rest of the film, Seth and Jen contend with buckets of grindhouse gore and a great deal of poor handheld camerawork while they try not to be killed by whatever is racking up a body count and screaming in binary all over their sleepy, rural American town.

It's one thing for a filmmaker to be a complete and utter hack — there's a market for that sort of childish fascination with excremental endeavours — but it's quite another to be such a reckless provocateur that you risk actually hurting your audience. Whatever frequencies being blared via dial-up alien throat singing are painful to the ears, in a way I haven't experienced in a lifetime of movie watching.

Even without such a distressing deal-breaker, Almost Human is so excruciatingly senseless that its only practical use would be in illegal prisoner interrogations.
(Channel 83)

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