“Follow the yellow brick road.”
An exhausted pregnant woman sits in a dank hallway, telling the tale of the “Wizard of Oz” to her unborn child in a weak attempt to make a metaphor about a happy group of friends that help one of their group go home. And then some dude runs by, and the woman’s head explodes. That’s just par for the course in writer/director Paul Hough’s (The Angel, The Backyard) The Human Race. In a horror flick by way of Edgar Wright’s The World’s End (you’ll see–and not because it’s funny… it’s not), it’s probably a good idea to give a little more context for why your characters are in the situation they’re in. Consequently, the feature is an awkward foray into horror that fails to build any suspense or connection with the audience.
The Human Race is a wannabe horror film in which eighty competitors are pulled from their daily lives and placed into a nightmarish urban race track in which there are a few simple rules; don’t step off the track, or you will die; don’t get lapped twice, or you will die; don’t touch the grass, or you will die (I’m picturing some old man brandishing a cane at “those damn kids” and threatening death if they don’t get off his lawn). We follow disabled Army veteran Eddie (Eddie McGee) through the race with his best friend and old Army buddy Justin (Paul McCarthy-Boyington), and together watch the two try and rally their fellow competitors to stop the madness of the disembodied voice counting down the deaths of the others. Other characters include a bike racer who doesn’t speak much English, and a pair of deaf friends who communicate in sign language.
Beyond the story of the race, you get a handful of barely-relevant backstories for some of the characters. In fact, while giving . You could cut those entire parts out of the movie and save everyone who watched the film those twenty minutes of their life. Literally the only one that does anything for the plot is Justin’s backstory of working with disabled children, because it shows that he knows sign language in order to communicate with the deaf people later on.
It’s a pretty basic plot, to be sure. Unfortunately, there’s not much else to talk about, and the ending makes me think of Giorgio Tsoukalos (this guy) sitting at a computer trying to think of an ending and finally saying “Aliens!” to no one in particular. It’s kind of like the end of Wright’s The World’s End, but without easing the viewer into the absurdity.
Each character fails to beyond one-dimensional, and the handful of attempts to make the viewer connect emotionally with a character are met with the abrupt kill of that character, severing any sort of emotional bond they might have with the film. For instance, the first eight minutes of the film are spent setting up the story of a girl who watches her sister suffer and die from an unnamed disease. Fast forwarding, the girl ends up diagnosed with the same disease, and does a montage of the girl getting healthy and finding out she’s in remission. …And then she is the very first person to die in this mysterious race, and not mentioned again in the film. It’s fine if the objective of the filmmaker was to simply show the triviality of a death in this film, but it’s another thing entirely to make this the first part of the film and waste the viewer’s time. Yet another nearly-successful attempt to get us to empathize with the film is by including a pair of children. They’re literally only in two scenes with some hackneyed dialogue, but by this point, it doesn’t really matter, because you’ve probably already checked out because of the cheesy head-exploding special effects.
In short, The Human Race is an awkward film that suffers from a lot of glaring problems in writing. The acting isn’t entirely unconvincing, if that’s something you really care about, but it’s far from enough to save the whole feature.
But it is enough to make your head explode.
Check it out on Scene-Stealers! http://www.scene-stealers.com/reviews/print-reviews/kickstarter-project-the-human-race-suffers-from-weak-script-not-budget/