Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Almost Human: What Happens in Maine
an independent station way up in northern Maine, Channel 83 is not exactly the
fast track to a network career, but they know how to cover mysterious
disappearances. Thanks to an unearthly entity, they can look forward to some
salad days in Joe Begos’ throwback 1980’s style sci-fi slasher flick, Almost Human (trailer here), which releases
this Friday in Los Angeles and on VOD.
in the Maine woods chased Seth Hampton to his buddy Mark Fisher’s cabin.
Initially, the outdoorsman dismisses Hampton’s panic, but it turns out the
alien force prefers the burly Fisher.
After a flash of blue light and piercing tone, Fisher is sucked out of
the house, leaving Fisher’s girlfriend Jen Craven and the guilt-ridden Hampton
behind. For a while, the police key in on Hampton as their prime suspect, a
development the confused Craven does little to discourage. However, no evidence can be found to implicate
years later, Hampton tries to live a quiet life as the town weirdo, but he is
plagued by disturbing visions of similar horrors. We soon learn Fisher has
returned, or at least the shell of his body under alien control. As he preys on
Maine’s backwoodsmen, Hampton and Craven reconcile, hoping to find some answers
and a bit of closure. Not so fortunately, the malevolently mutated Fisher soon
comes looking for Craven.
Almost Human, Begos deliberately goes
for a low budget retro-eighties look, much like Ti West did with House of the Devil, except even
grubbier. Frankly, it seems strange to emulate the look of 1980’s
straight-to-video horror, when it is so easy for genre fans to find the genuine
article. Still, he shows a flair for inventive gore, but the narrative is
defiantly workaday stuff.
the work of Graham Skipper and Josh Ethier are also a cut above those typically
found in 80’s grind ‘em outs. Skipper (whom some might recognize from the
Off-Broadway production of Re-Animator:
the Musical) is actually quite engaging as the everyman Hampton trying to
hold onto the last shred of his sanity.
Conversely, Ethier (who also doubled as editor and co-producer) is an
interesting looking heavy, whom we can sort of buy into as a hardscrabble one-man
version of Jack Sholder’s under-appreciated The
In a way, the consistency of Begos’ no-frills
vision is quite impressive (right down to the old school UHF news reports we
see from the fictional Channel 83), but a little goes a long way. Ultimately, Begos
just defrosts some red meat leftover from the 1980’s (admittedly a great
decade) rather than pulling together a nourishing feast. Serviceable as a midnight movie, but nothing
viewers will carry with them after the show, Almost Human opens this Friday (2/21) in Los Angeles at the Arena Cinema and next Wednesday (2/26) in New York at the IFC Center.
Labels: 1980's, Horror Movies