Almost Human (2014) [Blu-Ray]

Sometimes shocking simplicity is all you really need to give audiences a good scare here and there. With a noticeable low budget, director Joe Begos doesn’t aspire to deliver anything more than a gruesome alien horror film while also sticking to the basics of what makes a good horror movie work. “Almost Human” is a very well made horror science fiction movie in the vein of “The Thing” and “Xtro.” It works within a limited budget and still delivers a pretty eerie and tense, albeit flawed, horror entry. If you can forgive the obvious nods and winks to films like “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” and “The Terminator,” you’re in for a good time.

After an intense confrontation with alien beings, Seth retreats to his friends’ house warning of their insistence on chasing him for reasons he can’t comprehend. When his friend Mark attempts to bravely defend wife Jen, he’s abducted before their eyes never to be seen again. Years later, Seth is haunted by that night, while Jenna has struggled to move on, but Mark returns once again, and he’s a much different man. Mark has been reprogrammed and transformed in to an alien breeder, and is now slaughtering people across the country in an effort to find Jenna and build an army of alien doubles that will presumably take over the world. One of the more charming aspects of “Almost Human” is the small scale that focuses more on Mark’s reign of terror than the alien aspect of the story. He’s a killing machine with zero mercy, and Josh Ethier’s performance is pretty excellent, all things considered. He’s a believable foe, and stomps through most obstacles like the terminator, all with his primal urge to procreate and try to regain affections toward Jenna.

Graham Skipper and Vanessa Leigh also give solid turns as the protagonists doomed to confront Mark and his grand plans for humanity. Director Begos injects respectable tension within the narrative as Mark’s reign of terror begins extending to his old friends, as they try to figure out what, if anything, the aliens have been planning since the night Mark was abducted. There are some great special effects, including the brutality that Mark inflicts, including an exploding head, and a vicious stabbing. I just wish Begos could decide what kind of movie he was making. Sometimes “Almost Human” is an alien film, then it’s a slasher, then it’s a tragic drama. Character Seth also serves no real purpose to the narrative, since his premonitions don’t help matters, and we’re never let in to why the aliens were after him originally. In either case, “Almost Human” is an entertaining and engrossing throwback that channels Cronenberg, and Stuart Gordon, while also making the most out of its small budget. I look forward to seeing what director Begos gives movie fans down the line.

Special features in the packed Blu-Ray is a commentary with Writer/Director Joe Begos and Josh Ethier, both of whom provide interesting insight in to their small production, and how they were able to compose such a unique horror film in a small schedule and film crew. There’s also another commentary with Joe Begos, Josh Ethier, Actor Graham Skipper and Camera Operator Cory Lockman, all of whom provide their own anecdotes per scenes, and their feelings on filming certain moments.

It’s a nice group session. There’s a forty five minute Making Of segment which details in great length the creation of the film, the forming of the cast, and garners interviews with various cast members, all of whom express delight in working on the production. There’s a shorter five minute version of the making of documentary, and a two minute compilation of star Graham Skipper’s moments on set in from the documentary. “Toxin” is a short film from director Begos who portrays the point of view an infected individual. There are three alternate trailers, a Vintage TV spot featuring Stuart Gordon, and finally a photo gallery.