Almost Human [Blu-ray]
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Mark Fisher disappeared from his home in a brilliant flash of blue light almost two years ago. His friend Seth Hampton was the last to see him alive. Now a string of grisly, violent murders leads Seth to believe that Mark is back, and something evil is inside of him.
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Acting wise, cinematography, general writing, all pretty average, nothing really to complement or complain about. Overall, just kind of meh about it as a whole.
The film opens with the on-screen scrawl: "The following is based on events that took place in Patten, Maine." (but the film was shot in Rhode Island, one of the few horror film that I can remember being filmed entirely in that State). On Friday, October The 13th, 1987, Seth Hampton (Graham Skipper; TALES OF HALLOWEEN - 2015) is driving like a maniac down a dark road looking like he is trying to outrun someone or something. He makes it to friend Mark Fisher's (Josh Ethier; also this film's Editor and Co-Producer) home and is in a panic, staring through the Venetian blinds to see if whatever he is scared of has arrived. Seth tells Mike that "something is f*****g following me!" and goes on to explain that he was driving with their friend Rob when a blue light exploded in front of them and he nearly drove the car into a tree. Seth goes on to explain that there was an ear-piecing noise that made their ears bleed. Mike wants Seth to drive him to where this happened, but Seth refuses, yelling that Rob is gone because "a beam of light sucked him into the f*****g sky!" Seth warns Mark not to go there, but before Mark can make a decision, the blue light appears, engulfs the house and the electricity goes out, followed by the ear-piercing noise. Mark walks out of the house like he is in a zombiefied state, and before Seth and Mark's girlfriend Jen (Vanessa Leigh; JOY AND THE APOCALYPSE - 2011) can do anything, they watch Mark being sucked into the sky by a beam of light. As the opening credits play (The appearance of the film's title uses the same font and movement as John Carpenter's THE THING  and there are other instances in this film that also remind you of Carpenter's film, as well as the poster and DVD art.), we see a bunch of TV reporters (one of them portrayed by the director) telling their audience that the whole county lost electricity last night and the power companies have no idea how it happened. As the days pass, the reporters also go on to say that Mark and Rob (whom we never meet, or at least think we never will, but you'll have to discover that for yourself if you are patient) are officially declared missing and the county sheriff comes on TV to declare that the lights everyone saw and the two men's disappearances have nothing to do with "extraterrestrials" (the film's shooting title). As the opening credits continue rolling, the reporters say that authorities believe that Seth Hampton had something to do with their disappearance and he was taken into custody (we then see police interrogation footage of Seth proclaiming his innocence), but the police had to release him for lack of evidence. Two years pass and Seth wakes up from a nightmare with a bloody nose. It seems he started getting bloody noses in the past week, so he makes an appointment with a doctor and calls his job to tell his boss he will be late coming in (while he is doing this, he watches as a reporter on TV says that people saw a bright blue light last night and wonder if it is related to the incident two years earlier). Jen has moved on and is now living with nice guy Clyde (Anthony Amaral III) in her same old house (she was just sleeping over at Mark's house on the night he disappeared). She also watches the news report about the lights and seems genuinely scared (this comes right after her boss tells her he is cutting her hours at the diner she works at due to "slow business").
We then see two hunters in the woods, where they spot a naked human body shivering on the cold Winter ground. It turns out to be Mark (shades of Harry Bromley Davenport's XTRO ), but it is apparent from his appearance and actions that he is a changed man (if he is a man at all). He lets out an ear-piercing yell which brings the two hunters to their knees and starts choking one of them, while the other hunter loads his rifle and fires, but he hits his friend in the head instead, splattering blood all over Mark's face. Mark then snaps the other hunter's neck, steals his clothes and does something to his body (off-screen) that we are not privy to...yet. Seth goes to visit Jen at the diner (the first time he has talked to her since Mark disappeared) and says he thinks the lights returning last night have something to do with Mark, but she tells him Mark is dead and for Seth to go see a psychiatrist (Jen remembers very little about what happened two years earlier).
Meanwhile, Mark walks to the nearest gas station and asks the guy behind the counter where he is because he has to get to Patten, The counter guy (who is not pleased that Mark has walked into his station carrying a rifle) tells Mark that Patten is 100 miles away and then tells him to get the hell out of his station. Mark walks outside, where he stabs a guy in the neck with a knife over and over so he can steal his truck. The counter guy comes outside holding a shotgun, telling Mark not to move, but Mark throws the knife at the guy super-quick and hits his mark (no pun intended), finishing off the counter guy by blowing off his head with his own shotgun. Mark then throws the body of the stabbed driver in the back of the truck (seems he has no use for human bodies without heads) and drives to Patten. Seth arrives at the hardware store where he works and apologizes to his not-too-pleased boss Clancy (Chuck Doherty) for being an hour late (Clancy is worried that Seth is reverting back to the problems that he had two years earlier).
Mark arrives at his old house, which has been sold to a married couple (In one of the film's little effective touches, there's a round patch of ground in the front yard when Mark was abducted where grass still refuses to grow.). He cuts the phone line and kills the husband outside (who is chopping and chainsawing wood) with a shotgun blast to his chest and an axe to his head (nothing is left to the imagination) and then grabs the chainsaw and cuts open the front door of the house (shades of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE ), asking the wife "What are you doing in my house?!?" and chasing her outside with the chainsaw. She gets into her car, but before she can drive away (unlike other horror film tropes, the car starts up as soon as she turns the key), he uses the chainsaw to break the driver side window, drags her out of the car and slits her throat with a knife (we are led to believe she is going to suffer a horrible chainsaw death, but this film keeps throwing sharp rights when you thing you are going to get a left). Seth's co-worker Jimmy (John Palmer) tells him he just saw a report on TV about the murders at the gas station and Seth faints, his nose bleeding again. Clancy makes him take the rest of the day off and tells him not to come back until he feels better. We then find out what Mark does with the dead bodies: A fleshy tube comes shooting out of Mark's mouth and attaches itself to the corpses' mouths and something travels down the tube and enters the dead bodies (with a sickly white goo spurting out of their mouths), turning them into pods and, after a while, an exact copy of of those people emerges from the pods, but they are no longer human (both the pods and the loud-pitched screams are tributes to both the 1956 and 1978 versions of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS).
Jen then sees the murders at the gas station on TV and starts to feel strange, so she gets a co-worker to drive her home. Before she gets there, Mark shows up at her house and meets Clyde. He recognized Mark and starts beating him with a baseball bat when he enters the house uninvited while telling Mark, "Do you think you can walk back into her life and break into my f*****g house?". Mark lets out the ear-piercing scream and snaps Clyde's neck, infecting his body with the alien seed and putting it with the rest of the bodies in a barn next to Jen's house. Seth gets back to his house and listens to a message on his answering machine from his doctor, who wants him to call first thing in the morning. At the same time, Mark hears Jen call her home and her answering machine picks up, where she tells Clyde that she is not feeling too well and her co-worker is driving her home. Mark stays at the house and waits for her to come home and he calls Seth, saying something that makes him hurry over to Jen's house. When Jen gets home, she notices the strange truck parked in her front yard, so she enters her home cautiously. She then meets Mark and is overcome with emotions, but she wonders what has happened to Clyde when Mark asks her if she still loves him. Mark then tells her that he is going to give her what she always wanted: A family. But it is not the type of family she was expecting before Mark was abducted. Mark tells her, "I'm different now. I want you to join me, to be like me, so we can always be together." If you want to find out what happens next and, believe me, you will, you'll have to rent or buy the film (I picked up a brand new copy on DVD from Amazon for less than $6.00. It was money well spent.). Needless to say, it's a bloody, gory, gooey experience, filled with inventive murders, a race of human-looking aliens bursting out of the pods and Seth trying to save Jen. If you don't want to miss one of the most insane, bat-s**t crazy horror films of the last decade (What Mark does to Jen is particularly disturbing, but what Seth does to her is even worse.), filled with dismembered body parts, flashbacks on what happened to Mark when he was abducted, non-titillating nudity and genuine suspense that will have you at the edge of your seat, throw down a few bucks and get this film. It packs a lot into its short 79-minute running time (the end credits last eight minutes to pad out the film to feature length, but make sure you watch them because there is a stinger after the credits end which answers a nagging question I had since the beginning of the film).
This is an excellent old-fashioned gore film with an actual plot, the kind they don't make any more. Sure, there are some gaping plot holes (What did the doctor want to talk to Seth about? By the sound of the doctor's tone, it didn't sound good.), but you'll be having too good of a time to really care about them. Freshman director/screenwriter/co-producer/cinematographer Joe Begos (THE MIND'S EYE - 2015) hits his first feature film out of the park, as you will have a great time spotting his tributes to other films (besides the ones I have already mentioned, there are also elements of HALLOWEEN , THE SHINING  and other films; see how many you can spot) as well as some really grisly deaths (all done practically by Rob Fitz and his crew) and good acting by a generally unknown cast (Josh Ethier is better known for editing films like CONTRACTED  and Adam Green's DIGGING UP THE MARROW  than as an actor). This is one of my favorite discoveries of the last decade and I urge you to see it. My highest recommendation. Christopher L. Ferriera, who portrayed the creature in the terrible FRANKENSTEIN'S HUNGRY DEAD (2013) was one of the Second Second Assistant Directors here. Also starring Susan T. Travers, Jami Tennille, Jeremy Furtado, Michael A. Lo Cicero, Kristopher Avedisian, David Langill, Eric Berghman, Mark O'Leary and John Raso. An IFC Midnight DVD Release, who are quickly becoming the go-to label for quirky, independent films. Not Rated.