Almost Human (2014) – Movie review

(not to get confused with Almost Human, the TV show)
Almost Human movie pic 10

Almost Human (2014)

Directed by Joe Begos

Aliens are the new zombies! Actually, it hasn’t happened yet but I feel it coming. There’s a vast untapped resource for horror films in the alien encounter sector. We got a slight taste of it with VHS 2 and Alien Abduction but neither film sent this alien bubble into warp-drive. All we need is a real good alien encounter film with some original expansive ideas to lead the way. Unfortunately, Almost Human is not the one. I think the key to getting something worth buzzing about, is for the filmmakers to drop the ‘based on a true story’ angle. Trying to stick close to reality always holds the film back.Almost-Human-2013 - poster

The run-down: Mark is sucked up by a blue light in a rural area of Maine. The girlfriend goes on with her life and the close friend obsesses over it, often waking with nosebleeds (never explained). Mark shows up two years later, naked in the woods, and goes on a killing spree. He injects people with alien egg-sacs.

So your thinking, it starts off just like Fire in the Sky, but that’s not the problem. The problem is… it copy & pastes scenes and ideas from dozens of Horror films: the alien ‘scream’ from Invasion of the Bodysnatchers (1978), the ‘hide in the closet’ scene from Halloween, the ‘bloody worm crawling into someone’s mouth’ scene from Slither, the ‘cops kill the lone survivor ending’ from NotLD, plus parts from Pulp Fiction, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Friday the 13th. Perhaps they were just an homage, but if that were the case, they should have made it more obvious.

There’s an interesting scene where Mark attempts to impregnate his ex-girlfriend by implanting the egg in her you-know-what with his snorkel-face. For everyone else it was oral, why with her is it different? (women like oral too, so I’ve heard) But I watched, ’twas a nice shot of her shaved wahoo. The effects were quite good for a ‘dice and slice’ slasher film, which this was and wasn’t, and it was fun to watch these gags. But, the worst part of the film was, none of these characters were at all interesting. They were boring. Characters without character, no personality. If you watch it just for the gore effects, bloody kills and body count – it’s an ok, casual viewing. Almost Human is almost good.

Almost Human movie pic 7

Nothing new in this alien encounter turned psycho slasher flick, but decent enough for gore-filled popcorn entertainment.

I give it 2.5 crusty cocoons out of 5 on the alien encounter egg infestation scale.

 

Alien Abduction (2014) – movie review

Alien Abduction - 2014 pic 1

Alien Abduction (2014)

Alien encounter films can be the most cliché and ineffective genre of films. There are few that successfully capture their intended horrific atmosphere. Dark Skies did nothing for me. Altered was a snoozer to me. The Knowing? Blah.

With such a generic title, (Alien Abduction – could you think of anything less original) I wasn’t expecting much. It sounded like one of those budget SyFy, cookie-cutter films – you know, with a sexy, big-boobed, military woman, wearing a camouflage, tank-top, tee-shirt and wielding a huge semi-automatic machine gun. However, the trailer looked interesting enough and I decided to give it a try.

Which reminds me, when is Netflix streaming going to make it so you can watch the trailers? The technology is there… get one of your employees in India to spend a day loading them in. I mean, come on already! Am I right?

The film starts and it’s a found footage film. I had no clue from the trailer that it was an FF film. Points off for that.alien abduction 2014 film

A young autistic boy is hyper-attached to his video camera. He barely says ten words in the whole film. His family is on a camping trip to Brown Mountain. On the first night the kids are awakened by strange lights. Emerging from their tents they see strange balls of light in the sky above the peak of Brown Mountain. In the morning, the video camera is dead and they can’t show their parents the footage until the batteries recharge. By that time, they are on the road again and get lost on a back road leading to Brown Mountain‘s summit. With the video camera back in service they come upon abandoned cars. They reach a tunnel in the mountain with cars and vehicles clogging their path. The Dad and his two sons go to investigate while Mom and the daughter stay back at the Caravan. When the men enter the dark tunnel, all hell breaks loose! From that point on, the film turns into a jarring creep-fest as the family is hunted down by aliens. They are picked off, one by one, in a thrilling attack and retreat cycle, which really boosts the tension and elevates the terror of the film.

At times the usual FF techniques are a bit monotonous and all too familiar, but there are enough tense scenes to keep you interested. The anger of the Dad about getting lost seems over-the-top. I remember being on road trips as a boy and my Dad getting mad, but not like that.

alien abduction 2014 pic 5think the quick flashes of aliens in the moving camera adds to the creepiness, showing just enough of the creatures to be freaky. There’s no strong violence in the film – as with most alien encounter films – it relies mostly on mood, atmosphere and suspense, which it does a good job conveying.

If you scoff at the premise of an alien abduction film, you’d be better off to leave this be. And if you dislike FF films, you are best advised to stay away. However if you are okay with both of these concepts, Alien Abduction is a very good entry into this genre. While it doesn’t offer any new ideas to the genre, the first person POV puts you squarely in the action. Decent acting, likable characters, and alien effects/make-up by the Chiodo Brothers make for a well-made film.

A tense alien encounter and abduction film in the found footage style – worth a watch for those who like the genre.

I give the film 3.8 illuminations on the strange lights in the sky scale.

————————–

The film includes interviews of residents who actually witnessed the Brown Mountain Lights, a phenomenon that has occurred frequently in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Foothills for the past century.

Read more about the true phenomenon here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/26/brown-mountain-lights-nc_n_1302204.html

————————–

And, for a completely different veiw/opinion of Alien Abduction 2014, check out the review at John’s Horror Corner

 

V/H/S 2 – (2013) – Movie review

VHS 2
V/H/S 2 – (2013)

First thing, the wrap around story is almost as annoying as the one in VHS because it’s a continuation from the original film. A private detective is hired to find one of the extremely annoying college kids from the 1st film and winds up in the same dark house. He tells his assistant to watch the video footage, maybe there will be a clue on them. So we enter the segments.

Clinical Trials follows a man who gets an experimental eye implant. The digital eye boosts all the optic wavelengths, which in turn has the disturbing side-effect of enabling him to see ghosts. It is damn unnerving to have knowledge of all the spiritual activity surrounding him. There is one scene that didn’t make too much sense to me but I guess they had to throwVHS 2 pic 2 some nudity in here somewhere. The biggest drawback was that the character in this was a bit of a dill-weed and I didn’t really care about him. However, it was a decent segment and equal to the quality of the original VHS.

A Ride in the Park follows a young man on his morning bike ride through a large wilderness park. He has one of those helmet cams on the roof of his noggin. A screaming lady runs out of the woods in front of him and when he stops to help her, zombie horde city! There are a few nice wrinkles in this zombie tale including a contradiction to the notion that zombies have no memory of their past life. A fun segment with some comedic aspects added to the gore.

Safe Haven follows a news team that is let into the compound of a secretive cult. The team doesn’t know there is a reason they were chosen to enter the commune and it has to do with one reporters unborn child. As the investigation and interviews proceed, the cult leader starts chanting into a PA system and literally, all hell breaks loose! This one will get your heart VHS-2-pic 6pumping with echoes of The Evil Dead (1981). There’s even a Sam Raimi style ‘punch line’ at the very end which made me laugh. Despite the punch line, this is the creepiest segment of all.

Slumber Party Alien Abduction follows a young woman and her bratty younger brother who continuously prank each other and capture it all on camera. In one piece of footage, there are some light anomalies on the lake behind their house. Later that night a piercing sound shatters the dark and they are in the midst of aliens who chase them down and attempt to kidnap them. It’s total chaos as these creatures disappear and reappear in different places, hunting them down. After watching some lousy alien abduction films lately, this one really makes the situation tense. It’s edgy and ramps up the scares, perhaps revitalizing this sub-genre of horror.

The wrap around story concludes with not much interest from me. I would say that the first two segments were as good as the ones from the original VHS, but the last two were better than the stories in the previous film. The real time aspect of found footage films doesn’t leave a lot of room for depth of a story but I think that’s what people like about these films – everything is in the here-and-now. There was a little more attention to storyline and plot, especially in Safe Haven and except for the first segment, I actually liked the characters in the stories of this film. So my opinion is that, overall, this film is a better film than its predecessor. Recommended for those who like FF films, anthologies, and ‘action-horror’ (yes, I’m coining a new sub-genre).

VHS 2 pic 1

VHS 2 pic 3

VHS 2 pic 4

VHS 2 pic 7

VHS 2 pic 5

VHS 2 pic 8

Related Links:

V/H/S

Scary or Die

The Forgotten (2004) – movie review

the forgotten pic 5
—————————–

the-forgotten-originalThe Forgotten (2004)

Julianne Moore is a Mom distraught over the disappearance of her nine-year-old son. She sees a psychiatrist regularly to help cope and to navigate the strained relationship with her husband, Jim. It is not long before she accuses Jim of removing all evidence of her son from the home and even erasing video tapes. The husband and her psychiatrist attempt to explain to her that, she never had a son and that she had been emotionally unbalanced by a late term miscarriage. Unable to accept this reasoning, she sets out to find proof of her son’s existence, but the more she searches, the less she finds. She is distressed by her lack of findings until she gets the idea of another possibility; a conspiracy that involves government cover-ups and alien visitations. Has she suffered a psychotic breakdown or is she the only person in the city with her eyes open? With help from a neighbor, she has to hunt down clues to her theory while avoiding capture by two federal agents that show up on the scene.

This is less about the alien encounter and is more about government cover-ups, conspiracies, and the spiritual connection of a mother and her child. This is a well-made and interesting movie but not all that scary. There is a lot of running and a lot of talking. It’s like Julianne Moore running a marathon. She’s running through NYC, she’s running through Queens, she’s running around Long Island. I know some of you are not going to like this film. However, I would consider it a psychological thriller. Fans of the X-Files and Fringe will like this. In fact, it feels like a lost episode of The X-Files. Good for the one time watch.

the-forgotten-pic 2 The_Forgotten_pic 6

the forgotten pic 4

The_Forgotten_pic 3