Finally – an independent horror comedy romp I can get behind. USELESS HUMANS is a return to the fun of films like Cabin in the Woods and Tucker and Dale vs Evil. Four best friends since high school, lots of bad choices, aliens, badass secret agents – what more could you possibly need in a movie?

Brian Skaggs (Josh Zuckerman) is, for all intents and purposes, a failure. He has lost yet another mediocre job as a maintenance worker at a planetarium. He has no girlfriend, no prospects, and has been lying to his three closest friends about his career. He’s turning 30, and he’s doing it alone with a bottle of booze he got from his mom and dad. After years of being disconnected and distracted by life, he gets his best friends together to help him celebrate his birthday. Jess (Davida Williams) is an environmentalist working in the far reaches of the rainforest fighting deforestation. Louis (Rushi Kota) is a surgeon with a beautiful wife and newborn twins. Alex (Luke Youngblood) is… well… Alex. Probably drunk, possibly in trouble. But as crazy as all of their lives are they all come together to celebrate Brian’s big birthday. The celebrations are off to a rocky start though, when Jess arrives with her boss/boyfriend, Zachary (Joey Kern). Brian has always had a crush on Jess, and his proverbial hackles are up as soon as he sees Zachary. His instincts prove to be right though, as it is revealed Zachary is cheating on Jess. Karma, it turns out, has a swift hand, as Zachary is soon dispatched by a mysterious creature that arrives alongside a massive power surge. Thus, the games begin.

Meanwhile, Wendy (Maya Kazan) and Chum (Edy Ganem) are on a top secret contract mission to track and hunt down an alien creature that holds the key to a massive environmental and economic breakthrough. Their investigation leads them to our four heroes – and the creature that haunts them. This crew will be forced to team up, face their fears, and most importantly face themselves, in order to save each other and the world.

USELESS HUMANS walks a perfect tightrope of sci-fi thrills and absolutely riotous comedy. Incredible creature effects work, via Jason Collins and Autonomous FX, and alien puppeteering by Dan Gilbert, is perfectly juxtaposed with the wacky fun happening in the story. The alien, portrayed by James Croak, is a gorgeous, streamlined, almost sexy creature, like a love child between The Shape of Water and X-Files. It’s especially impressive to see such a beautiful creature alongside nearly slapstick level comedy, without it feeling out of place or too far-fetched. A rare treat, and a return to the practical effects that made this genre so great to begin with.

USELESS HUMANS is what happens when the kids from Stranger Things grow up… with a few frat parties and bad relationships along the way. There’s a deep human honesty to the relationships here, and the chemistry between our four leads is impeccable and natural. It isn’t difficult to believe that these four have shared a lifetime together, and apart, and back together – as if no time had passed at all. Even Zachary, who is an insufferable twat, is kind of charming in his idiocy. In fact, if I had to choose one word to describe USELESS HUMANS, it would be “charming”. It’s difficult these days to have a real romp of a horror film without falling into tired cliches or bad stereotypes. While there are a few moments that may make you groan, USELESS HUMANS will hit you moments later with a laugh or a scare that is like a breath of fresh air for horror and comedy fans alike.

7/10 stars

 

USELESS HUMANS
RATING: UR
Runtime: 1 Hr. 20 Mins.
Directed By:
Stephen Ohl
Written By:
Travis Betz, George Caine, Kevin Hamedani, Stephen Ohl, Ryan Scaringe