Almost Human: Review

IFC Films
Reverent sci-fi/horror homage is for genre diehards only

Body-stealing aliens turn nice guys into bloodthirsty stalkers in Joe Begos's debut.

A more-than-credible emulation of low-budget 1980s flicks that paired alien visitation with gory horror, Joe Begos's Almost Human gets the mood almost too right, reminding us that most of those films lacked the spark to achieve crossover success. Genre scholars will be appreciative, but most will encounter it, appropriately enough, on home video.

Graham Skipper plays Seth, who had a close encounter two years ago with a strange white light that abducted his buddy Mark (Josh Ethier, also the pic's editor) and left him a suspect in the disappearance. Still suffering an affect-draining PTSD (Skipper is so convincingly numb it's challenging for a film built around him), Seth is the first to realize something's wrong when the aliens come back. Mark returns to Earth, but something's off — if by "off" you mean he's killing strangers brutally and alien-zombifying them with a grisly umbilical cord that leaps out of his mouth.

Retaining some consciousness of his past, Non-Mark slays his way back to old girlfriend Jen (Vanessa Leigh), only to find she has moved on to a new man. "Do you still love me?" the sad monster asks; it's not clear how she might answer to avoid being turned into one of the alien-spawn cocoons in the basement.

Rob Fitz's makeup and ample bloody violence will please the Fangoria crowd, and period-evoking production touches, from the typography of opening titles to Andy Garfield's just-right creepy synth score, will warm the hearts of forty-something geeks whose shelves spill over with VHS copies of schlock that was never reissued on disc. If the action, script and performances all seem lifted almost directly from a dozen anonymous thrillers and a few (Invasion of the Body Snatchers most obviously) that succeeded, that should draw few complaints from the revivalist crowd. More casual fans are advised to wait a movie or two and see if Begos can do anything new with the idiom he knows so well.


Production Companies: Channel 83, Ambrosino/Delmenico

Cast: Graham Skipper, Vanessa Leigh, Josh Ethier, Michael Locicero, Susan T. Travers

Director-Screenwriter-Director of photography: Joe Begos

Producers: Anthony Ambrosino, Josh Ethier, Joe Begos

Production designer: Keri Dillard Ambrosino, Michelle Parenteau

Music: Andy Garfield

Costume designer: John Palmer

Editor: Josh Ethier

No rating, 79 minutes