Almost awesome. Almost Human is touted as a return to the glory days of gritty '70s/'80s horror, running lean and mean, with lots of gore and weirdness. The movie does indeed sport these attributes, though there are a few things holding it back from being as sick and dispiriting as some of those old-school horrors. However, any return to evil that skirts both the torture porn of ten years ago, or horror that relies solely on atmospheric jump scares, is welcome news for fans.
Mark (Josh Ethier) and Seth (Graham Skipper) are hanging out with their girls, pondering strange goings-on in the woods surrounding their hometown, when mysterious sounds indicate they might be closer to the weird action than they'd like. These opening scenes slowly build tension; if we're not fully invested in their characters yet, we're still able to buy into the notion that whatever's happening above their home, they probably shouldn't check it out.
Mark steps into the darkness with a gun, but ends up howling like Donald Sutherland in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (a movie with which Almost Human shares plenty of DNA) as a blue light takes him away. Meanwhile, Seth ends up with some nasty nosebleeds, and everything pretty much goes to hell for everyone else until Mark reappears in the woods two years later, naked and covered in slime.
You can bet Mark isn't bringing peace and love from the great beyond, but is he bringing the goods, or will his desire to make new friends get muddled up by lackluster acting and craziness that just doesn't go far enough? It's kind-of the latter, at least in the short run, and sadly that which keeps Almost Human from really taking of are the performances from the two leads, who inject their performances with just the tiniest amount of Gilmore Girls attitude. Seth and ex-girlfriend Jen (Vanessa Leigh) have been through a lot, which they try to show while somehow maintaining the slightest bit of remove from their characters. It's a bump in the wallpaper - as it were - that telegraphs in obvious fashion.
With a short run-time, (71 minutes) and ultimately a pretty nihilistic attitude, Almost Human does indeed strive for the grim charms of old-school horror. Splashy kill scenes that rely on practical effects work well, and had me wishing for the violence to really go over the top. Luckily, things pick up in the third act, with naked and headless tentacle activity, and some nice skull crushing. That's when gorehounds will really start to drool, and the move comes to a screeching halt. Maybe, as in some of those classic low-budget horrors, the producers simply ran out of money. Damn, just when it was getting really good! (Stick around after the credits for the obligatory "evil never dies" tag ending.) Rent It.