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Review: ‘Almost Human’

Alien Abduction Splatter

Above: Graham Skipper stars as Seth, a man haunted by his friend's mysterious disappearance in "Almost Human."

Aired 2/28/14 on KPBS News.

KPBS film critic Beth Accomando reviews "Almost Human" and speaks with star Graham Skipper.

Transcript

Companion Viewing

"Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956)

"Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977)

"The X-Files" (1993 TV series)

Ever since the success of the movie “Scream,” horror films have had a hard time taking themselves seriously. "Almost Human" (screening Friday and Saturday at the Digital Gym Cinema) is different. Actor Graham Skipper will field questions at the Friday screening.

It’s October, 1987. Mark Fisher goes out to investigate something strange and in a flash of blue light he vanishes. Two years later his best friend Seth is still haunted by the incident. Then a premonition about something bad happening comes true when Mark suddenly reappears. But Mark isn’t quite himself.

Graham Skipper plays Seth. He says it’s particularly frightening to have a monster that looks like someone you know.

"The idea of having your good close friend come back and be virtually identical to the friend that you knew but be this completely other person that's the scariest part, the sense of betrayal that comes with it. That the idea that this is somebody that you trusted, that you would have trusted with your life and that they are totally betraying that trust. This isn't some xenomorph from another planet - it IS your friend. Not being able to trust those you love is terrifying," Skipper says.

Skipper adds that he was attracted to "Almost Human" "because who wouldn't jump at the chance to do an alien abduction splatter movie?"

Credit: IFC

Poster art for "Almost Human."

Plus it's a film that takes the scares seriously. It wasn’t a jokey, self-reflexive commentary on the horror genre.

"What makes this stand apart I think is the fact that while it is certainly an homage to the films we loved as kids, specifically those of the 80s VHS boom, but it's not a "Scream"-style commentary on them. It just IS that movie. The love writer/director Joe Begos has for these films just sweats off the screen, and for me it just so exemplifies what indie filmmaking should be about: doing what you love, because you love it, at any cost. Making movies the way you want movies to be made. So I think that’s what makes it so special; you’re not just watching a movie that reminds you of these other films you are watching that film," Skipper says.

Key to the film’s success is make up effects wiz Rob Fitz who makes sure we squirm when the alien reveals his true intent. Eeew!

"Almost Human" (not rated) is a solid, 80s style horror tale with effective use of gore and tentacles. I won't say any more.

Actor Graham Skipper (Dr. Herbert West in "Re-Animator The Musical") will be at the 10 p.m. screening on Friday Feb. 28 for a Q&A and to sign a limited number of posters. A videotaped introduction with Skipper will play before the Saturday Mar. 1 screening. Both are at the Digital Gym Cinema and presented by the Film Geeks (a group of volunteer film programmers including myself).

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