Almost Human (IFC Midnight)

Almost Human (IFC Midnight)

Filmed, Written & Directed by Joe Begos
Produced by Begos, Anthony Ambrosino & Ethier
Released by IFC Midnight
USA. 80 min. Not rated
With Graham Skipper, Vanessa Leigh, Josh Ethier, Michael Locicero & Susan T. Travers

The slasher film Almost Human starts off with a jolt of adrenaline as a young man, Mark (Josh Ethier), barrels down the highway towards his friend’s house. Once there, he tries to convince Seth that a mutual pal was been sucked into space by lights in the sky. Understandably skeptical, Seth tries to calm Mark down when his girlfriend comes downstairs to see what’s happening. What’s happening is piercing noise, flashing lights, and Mark getting sucked up into the heavens.

Years later, Seth (Graham Skipper) is still having nightmares about his friend’s disappearance. The girlfriend, Jen (Vanessa Leigh), has moved on and is engaged to the type of guy who still drag races down Main Street at age 27. Seth is worried—as he should be—because Mark is back. And he’s developed a tendency to kill everyone he meets. And it all takes place in Maine… where there are plenty of tools handy if you’re in the murdering mood.

Director Joe Begos brings a solid pace and a wonderful sense of place to the proceedings in this lower middle-class town. Seth works in a hardware store, Jen is a waitress in a diner, and Mark… well, Mark is a bit more ambitious. Begos also delivers the horror goods. The kills are, to quote Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan, nasty, brutish, and short. The film is a trim 80 minutes. There’s no real character development, but who really wants that when you’ve got an unstoppable, possibly alien madman chasing after you? Still there is plenty of room for plot twists and nasty surprises. In fact, about halfway through, when I found out what Mark was really up to, a grin slowly spread across my face.

This isn’t perfect, mind you. The dialogue is perfunctory, the acting is not above-par or sub-par but simply par, though Graham Skipper brings a sweet hangdog charm to his part. And truth be told, this is a movie that is made up of parts from better movies. But those better movies are classics, and Begos fits the pieces together quite well.