There are certain films that manage to become particularly difficult to review for the simple fact that revealing nearly any plot point would be giving too much away. Blumhouse Television and Epix’s latest venture, the teen horror/comedy zombie film Unhuman, falls into this category by throwing multiple curveballs throughout the movie, all of which are integral to the progression of the overall story. While this translates into a review that will be obliged to tread considerably lightly, there’s still plenty to speak about in regards to performance, tone, and pacing.
Early on, this movie makes it evident it’s going for a Breakfast Club meets Dawn of the Dead vibe by pitting a group of divergent teens against amped up zombies after the field trip they are on quickly descends into manic, bloody chaos. We are briefly introduced to lead Ever (Brianne Tju), and her snarky best friend, Tamara (Ali Gallo), who spend an unnecessarily lengthy amount of time bickering in dialogue that feels overly cringey and unnatural.
Nonetheless, they are quickly joined with the rest of the young cast, who all very obviously represent the typical High School class stereotypes as they board their school bus for an educational day trip. Their destination is never reached, however, before all hell breaks loose in the form of crazed zombies intent on feasting on a Gen Z buffet.
From this point, the action and pacing stay at a consistent high-speed level, never wavering for longer than a handful of brief moments, as the group attempts to survive, find safety, and fight back. At times, this can feel overly done, as it never truly settles down for those slower, quieter moments of character interaction. The few occasions that these are provided, it ends up feeling too little, too late, as the major plot points overshadow the ability to focus on anything else.
Despite this, there are ample opportunities for deranged, messy, humorous fun as the group begins to piece together what exactly is going on. The tension between the characters is one of the strengths of Unhuman, but the dialogue never quite hits the mark on believability, especially when taking into consideration this is a group of teens. The cast does their best with the direction and writing they are given, though, particularly since they all must carry the entirety of the film on their shoulders.
Tju most notably stands out by portraying a young lady who truly comes into her own in a markedly short span of time. It’s refreshing to see a lead who doesn’t end up typecast as either frail, inordinately nerdy, prudish, or promiscuous, who simply is determined to trudge through difficult circumstances. She earns her badge as Scream Queen in a natural way, and will undoubtedly be seen in future projects.
Unhuman is written by Saw franchise alums Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, whose other works include Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and The Collection. While horror is surely their wheelhouse, this is their first foray into the realm of mixing comedy and Gen Z leads, and while the concept and technique are compelling, it ultimately feels as though it falls short on some points. This is mostly due to feeling rushed and too chaotic in delivering those aforementioned plot points, when it could have benefitted from slowing down just slightly for the audience to fully enjoy the ride it takes you on.
All that said, this is a film that provides enough outrageous and unique moments to still make it an entertaining watch. It’s more campy than scary, and leans heavily on the unbelievability factor, but it’s a film that can unequivocally boast that it captures a unique take on the oversaturated zombie genre.
5.5 Out Of 10
|Runtime:||1 Hr 27 Mins.|