Almost Human (NR)

Horror 80 min. February 21, 2014
By Sam Weisberg
“Based on true events” or not, Almost Human is a lame hybrid of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. One scare tactic in particular is stolen outright from Abel Ferrara’s underrated 1993 Body Snatchers: the earth-shaking, high-pitched screams that signify an oncoming attack. One spooky Maine night in October 1987, Mark Fisher (Josh Ethier) went out into his backyard to investigate these screams, as well as the blue swirling lights accompanying them. He disappeared, and two years later, Mark’s buddy Seth (Graham Skipper), a witness to this incident, has premonitions that Mark will return. Soon thereafter he does, but “almost human” is a vast understatement when describing Mark’s current form. (The cause of his metamorphosis is only glimpsed via grainy black-and-white flashbacks.) Already a burly lumberjack of a man, Mark now is a frosty-eyed, blood-craving zombie, just as handy with the penetrating probe that protrudes from his mouth — it looks like a tied-up bundle of red pantyhose — as he is with an ax or chainsaw. He’s trying to clone his victims into a race of superior killers, and it isn’t long before his ex-girlfriend Jen (Vanessa Leigh), who assumed him dead, is locked in her cellar with his assortment of pod-hatching freaks. With acting this wooden — even among those not playing zombies, though one at least attempts a rural Maine accent — the suspense lies less in who will die than in how grisly the means. There’s one disgustingly inventive moment: a mouth-to-uterus rape/impregnation attempt via the zombie tongue apparatus. And the ending is impressively bleak. But beyond that, it’s hard to see why IFC Films would attach itself to this ho-hum scarefest.
Joe Begos Graham Skipper, Josh Ethier, Vanessa Leigh, Susan T. Travers, Anthony Amaral III, Michael A. LoCicero, Jeremy Furtato, Jami Tennille, Chuck Doherty Joe Begos IFC Films

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