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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Monday, April 10, 2023

Unhuman (2022)

Time to go digging into the offerings from Amazon Prime. I stumbled on this movie and thought I’d give it a chance. I’ve only recently discovered Marcus Dunstan’s Collector series and since he also directed and co-wrote this one with Patrick Melton (Piranha 3 DD) it had potential to be good. But was it?

The movie opens with our main character, Ever, getting ready to go on a field trip with her class. This group of kids are doing it for extra credit and involve the normal mix of outsiders and cool kids. Ever’s best friend Tamra is also going and picks her up in a sweet ass Gremlin. Not important to the story but I love those cars. They make it to the bus where their teacher/chaperone Mr. Lorenzo takes all their phones. So, no calling for help when things go sideways later on. They drive off down the road but along the way run into something and crash.

Right before the accident they hear a radio broadcast warning folks to shelter in place. There has been some sort of chemical or biological attack. There is something crawling around the outside of the bus and eventually it gets inside and attacks Mr. Lorenzo. This sends the students running off thru the emergency exit, though they don’t all make it off. Eventually Ever, Tamra, a couple oddballs named Steven and Randall as well as the bullies meet up and take shelter in what looks to be an abandoned apartment complex in the middle of nowhere. The infected, including the other kids from the bus, shamble up and lay siege to where they are hiding.

Okay now I need to enter spoiler territory. I can’t continue talking about Unhuman without giving some rather important things away. You can skip to the last paragraph of this review for my conclusion. I promise to keep that spoiler free. Now that the warning is out of the way let us continue.

What seems to be a straightforward infected/zombie type flick goes completely off the rails when it is revealed that it is all faked. The bus crash, news report, the elaborate setup of the “abandoned” apartment building was all part of the plan. Seems that the oddballs Steven and Randall are angry and want to switch things up on the bullies to teach them a lesson. They do this with the help of a couple adults in the bus driver who was bullied by the Mr. Lorenzo when the pair were in high school, and a drug dealer who likes to stir shit up. The latter is important because when they catch the students, they shoot them up with some drugs that make them super compliant which explains why they shuffle around chasing after the “survivors”.

Does it though? Unhuman strikes me as a movie that is trying so hard to be clever and in the end that is what kills it. The hoops you must jump thru to make any logical sense out of the plot are so enormous that after the reveal I couldn’t care less what I was watching and was just waiting for it to be over. I get it… this is a horror movie lighten up. Had this been an actual infected or zombie flick I would have been willing to suspend my disbelief. But they chose to reel that story back in and tried to set this in some sort of high school bullshit drama reality. As a viewer it isn’t my fault that I’m now expecting things to make some sort of sense.

There is no world where four people can have this planned out and think that everything will be okay after it happens. Folks get hurt, and while they may not feel it while shot up on the drugs (which is altogether a dumb narrative idea) they get hurt. Somehow they also have convinced themselves that no one will remember what happened. But not everyone is on drugs. Plus, the folks that they want to “learn” their lesson will have to remember or what is the point? And right from the start things get out of hand as the drug dealer attacks and kills Mr. Lorenzo. Why did they continue if this was an innocent bit of high school shenanigans? Oh, and I get it “they are just kids”. Well except for the two adults who will go to grown up prison, so yeah.

Then again, I’m thinking since Randall brought a bag full of weapons with him and beats the “zombified” bus driver to death with a piece of wood he maybe intended to kill them anyway. But then why didn’t any of his co-conspirators come free right then and there? I mean now there are two murders. How about a conversation to explain why this wasn’t a deal breaker? But then that would have required a well thought out and logical driven script which we simply don’t have here.

There isn’t much in the way of special effects work. No one really dies… well except for the bus driver… oh wait he is alive and tied up at the end of the movie, so I guess not. Well Mr. Lorenzo is dead as we have seen his dead body starring lifelessly for several scenes. Then he sits up and drops a one-liner as they get the bus fired back up and drive away. Was this supposed to be a comedy? It wasn’t funny so I certainly hope not. In conclusion no one dies, the entire movie is a fake out, and is a poorly executed one at that. I get that they wanted to do something different and give them credit for that. But you have to do a whole lot better than what we ended up with here.

If you want to see a decent angsty high school bullshit movie with actual stakes, then may I recommend the Christian Slater double feature of Heathers and Pump up the Volume. Ironically, they are far more realistic and have some funny black humor in them as well. Unhuman you can skip altogether as it is a mess of good intentions and poor execution.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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