The Human Race (NR)

Horror 96 min. June 13, 2014
By Michael Nordine
In The Human Race, writer-director Paul Hough imagines a deadly game whose every rule ends with the warning, "... you will die." Eighty people suddenly appear in the same spot without any knowledge of how they arrived or where they are. They hear these rules echo in their minds and are thrust into the contest without the slightest preparation. This premise, though derivative of everything from The Running Man to Battle Royale, isn't without promise, and the fact that an actor with one leg and two others who are deaf were cast in lead roles helps distinguish Hough's project from its cinematic ancestors.

Hamstrung by what the visual effects indicate was a tiny budget, Hough wisely focuses on narrative surprises (killing off his presumed protagonist before anyone else) and splashes of dark humor (the sight of priests, construction workers and elderly veterans all running the same lethal but mundane course through anonymous suburbia). One test for movies like this is whether they bemoan the inevitable gore or revel in it; The Human Race too often falls into the latter, amplifying and focusing on the bloodshed. Low production values and inconsistent performances don't do the film any favors, either, and by the time half the contestants have been offed you may be less interested in who will win than when it will all be over.
Paul Hough Paul McCarthy-Boyington, Eddie McGee, Trista Robinson, T. Arthur Cottam, Fred Coury, Richard Gale Paul Hough XLrator Media

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