Over two decades have passed and still, this generation is inspired by the 80’s, the stuff of my youth. The VHS subculture and old-school poster designs seem more predominate than it’s been in years. Technology has made huge leaps yet artists still go out of their way to recreate the lower grade appearance I grew up on. It speaks volumes on the depressing state of modern day entertainment that filmmakers and musicians just don’t find any inspiration by the works of their contemporaries. Writer/Director Joe Begos’ Almost Human is the latest that’s soaked in 80’s influence.
Two years have gone by since the disappearance of Seth Hampton’s best friend, Mark Fisher via a strange blue light from the sky. All of a sudden a series of vicious murders begin to occur that leads him to believe Mark is back…well, at least his physical form. The premise follows the sci-fi/horror tradition seen in such classics as The Terminator, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and a personal fav, The Hidden. This is not the kind of film you gauge the acting. It’s at the level you’d expect from a title such as this. The cast serves the material well enough. Graham Skipper (Herbert West from the Re-Animator: The Musical) is likeable as our lead protagonist and Josh Ethier plays the cyborg-like villain more than efficiently.
Begos shows potential in his directorial debut. He clearly has affection for the sci-fi, horror B pictures of the 80’s. Every decision he makes is a loving nod in some shape or form. The opening title sequence uses the same font found in John Carpenter’s Escape From New York. The movie’s title card is absolutely killer. For a low budgeter, Almost Human is surprisingly well-made. Shot on the Red MX, the filmmakers do a fine job of replicating the look of the era of influence. It utilizes the 2.35:1 aspect ratio to good effect. The score by Adam Green’s go-to guy Andy Garfield captured the mood spot-on. The soundtrack is a great mix of Carpenter-esque synth and orchestral.
As for issues, I got the feeling certain moments especially in the third act have been padded in order to get the film to hit the 80 minute mark. The clearly dragged out end credit roll is another indicator that there wasn’t enough material for a feature-length. As entertaining as I found Almost Human to be, it seems merely content to replicate the source without ever attempting to take it somewhere fresh. There isn’t a moment here that wasn’t inspired from something else. Astron-6, more specifically the works of the brilliant Steven Kostanski (long live Manborg) show that you can pay homage to your idols yet at the same time create something insane and new.
Almost Human is yet another feature that would have made a better short. It’s not like I was bored with the movie. With a straight face, Begos successfully captures the 80’s unpretentious charm . I just feel he did a disservice to his own material by attempting to extend it into something that it’s clearly not. Despite these setbacks, I find just enough here to recommend. If you dig the trailer and cheesy 80’s sci-fi horror is your thing, this flick’s for you. It preyed on my nostalgia of a time I will forever cherish. Armed with The Dude Designs’ awesome cover art, Almost Human would make a fine VHS rental.