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Review: 'Almost Human' has the talent but lacks the ambition

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The extraterrestrial species that the denizens of "Almost Human" have close encounters with is of the parasitic variety that also possesses the ability to manipulate the behavior of its hosts.

Mark (Josh Ethier) reemerges two years after his abduction by aliens and immediately embarks on a killing spree. With circumstances of Mark's inexplicable disappearance now recurring, his best friend, Seth (Graham Skipper), and now-ex girlfriend, Jen (Vanessa Leigh), begin fearing the worst.

The film's ambition seems directly correlative to its low budget. It eschews pretense for cheap thrills, gleefully glossing over any political allegory or cautionary tale traditionally associated with the subgenre instituted by "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." 

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Writer-director-producer Joe Begos has made an assured feature debut with quite a bit of help from his friends — most notably Ethier, who cut his teeth as an editor and also serves in that capacity here.

The film employs a 1980s setting and fittingly incorporates a washed-out, grainy period aesthetic recalling rapper J. Cole's "Power Trip" music video. While the cast and crew's competence well exceed what anyone would expect from this breed of B movies, they cannot compensate for the flawed internal logic in the screenplay. As for Begos, his top priority appears to be upping the bloodshed.

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"Almost Human"

MPAA rating: None

Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood. Also on VOD. 

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