‘The dead will have this club for breakfast’
Unhuman is a 2022 American comedic horror film about misfit students fighting off zombie creatures… apparently.
Directed by Marcus Dunstan (The Collection; The Collector; Saw franchise) from a screenplay co-written with Patrick Melton (Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark).
The Blumhouse Television-Epix co-production stars Brianne Tju, Benjamin Wadsworth, Uriah Shelton, Ali Gallo, Peter Giles, Drew Scheid, Joshua Mikel, Lo Graham, Blake Burt, C.J. LeBlanc, Angel Lia Spitale and Dana Wing Lau.
While on a field trip, a bus transporting a group of high school students crashes Seven misfit students must then band together against a growing gang of unhuman savages. The group’s trust in each other is tested to the limit in a brutal, horrifying fight to survive and they must take down the murderous zombie creatures before they kill each other first…
It goes without saying that movie teasers and trailers should largely be avoided. However, certain circumstances led to a begrudging watch of the trailer for Unhuman before tonight’s viewing of the film itself. Dumb captions such as “most likely to die first” over a succession of teens in trouble while an urban tune played in the background (which isn’t even in the film itself – so why is it in the trailer?) didn’t bode well.
Sure, we all know that trailers can often oversell a movie. Yet, not in this case. Unhuman is, in fact, better than its crappy trailer. But only just. The first third of the film involves relentless high school stereotypes (or are they?). The middle third involves running infected zombie-types (or are they?) and the aforementioned stereotypes trapped in a confined space. The third section is, unfortunately, as ridiculous as anything served up in a movie in recent memory. There’s even a mid-credits snippet that’s even more absurd. Cos, why not?
Dunstan has made some enjoyably nasty movies in the past but this is a mostly tame cynical Blumhouse Television effort that seems overly contrived to appeal to a perceived ‘yoof’ audience in a somewhat obvious attempt to subvert some of the clichés it sets up in the first section of the scenario (“this unlikely group had bonded”). How very likely.
Meanwhile, an over-reliance on red/blue or red/green lighting to evoke ’80s retro style and the pointless repeated use of multiple split screens represent Dunstan’s attempts to add ‘style’ but only serve to make the events onscreen seem less involving. In the end, there is even a tiresome voiceover (without spoilers it’s easy to guess who delivers it) that adds insult to anyone with half a brain.
It’s a shame cos Brianne Tju really shines in her lead kick-ass role, despite even her character being somewhat abrasive for no clear reason, and some of Unhuman is undeniably just dumb fun. It just doesn’t gel as a movie and comes across as a mere product.
Unhuman is another nail in the coffin for Blumhouse’s attempts to seem relevant rather than just cluelessly pandering to whatever they assume will tick a genre box. Or rebooting old movies/franchises with inferior entries no one wanted or needed (Halloween; Black Christmas; Firestarter; The Exorcist) They should try Christmas/holidays movies that require even less effort, easier box-ticking, and a less discerning audience: Jason Blum would be in his natural moviemaking element.
Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA
“Dunstan seems to be channeling John Hughes in his high school horror comedy, but his sensibilities and delighted taste for gory violence place it closer to James Gunn’s Lollipop Chainsaw. That’s good news for fans of irreverent, splatstick humor. Unhuman is not particularly deep or complex, but it’s still a lot of fun.” All Horror
“There’s not a lot of narrative or thematic meat on Unhuman‘s bones, but it’s a fun romp all the same. Dunstan may veer a little too far into silliness in places, but it’s clear he’s having a blast. And that sense of fun tends to be quite infectious.” 3/5 Bloody Disgusting
” …the screenplay doesn’t develop its big ideas, with Melton and Dunstan struggling to find sincerity in a plot that’s mostly about grisly events happening to confused people. Unhuman starts off with some degree of mystery and storytelling energy, but the film eventually loses a level of playfulness, spending the last 45 minutes of the effort trying to make sense of the mess it’s created.” 2.5/5 Blu-ray.com
“You might have a strong urge to turn off Unhuman early. I wouldn’t blame you, although I would recommend giving it a bit longer, at least up until the key reveal, to see if the twist reignites your interest. Maybe it’ll salvage the disappointment of having made a mediocre choice for an evening’s entertainment.” 50/100 Culture Crypt
“In terms of plot, the movie moves at a very fast pace, there is always something happening on screen. However, some of these moments are truly ridiculous, and you might have to stretch your suspension of disbelief if you really want to enjoy the movie on a story level. The character interactions are also too much attached to the archetype of each character…” 5/10 Fiction Horizon
” …for most audiences that give Unhuman a shot, it will come across as fresh and entertaining (which it definitely is). Just make sure you don’t give up when it gets a bit slow or boring. It is all part of the plan. Bottom line: I loved the beginning, was bewildered by the middle, and then really enjoyed the ending.” 3/5 Heaven of Horror
“Dunstan, co-writing with longtime partner Patrick Melton, sees a darling simplicity in old-school teen movies […] There’s real cynicism lying under the viscera, although the surface-level laughs and shocks help Unhuman masquerade as simple bloody levity.” UK Film Review
In the US, Paramount Movies released Unhuman on Digital on June 3, 2022.
Cast and characters:
Brianne Tju … Ever
Benjamin Wadsworth … Randall
Uriah Shelton … Danny
Ali Gallo … Tamra
Drew Scheid … Steven
Lo Graham … Jacey
CJ LeBlanc … Hunt
Blake C. Burt … Ryan
Tony Donno … Wayne/Bus Driver
Dana Wing Lau … Ever’s Mom
Emma Fitzpatrick … MS Operative
Traysion Wilburn … Growth Spurt
Angel Lia Spitale … Juniper
1 hour 31 minutes