Antihuman Review- Big Ideas Lacking Visuals

Posted October 26, 2017 by Thomas James Juretus in Movies

Directors: Mark Robins, Luke Gietzen

Written by: Mark Robins

Release date: October 17, 2017

Cast: Anya Korzun, Danielle Arden, Andrew Jardine, Katie Keight, Kathryn Goldsmith

There are those movies that have Big Ideas, and convey them successfully, whether through properly timed moments of dialogue (Cloud Atlas) or through imagery, both subtle (A Ghost Story) and spectacular (2001: A Space Odyssey). The best of these films delivers a combination of both, making us think as well as wonder at the visual splendor (Blade Runner 2049). Even better is when we have characters we care about, ones that we can learn and grow with on their journey to find those Big Answers to what it all means. Those films have us thinking and marveling over the sights long after the credits roll. They can be among the best that cinema has to offer us, beyond those movies designed to just give our brains a rest and flat out entertain us for a couple of hours, making us forget our worldly cares.

Antihuman is not one of those movies.

The movie, from directors Mark Robins and Luke Gietzen (Maps and Stars and Music), and written by Robins, certainly has Big Ideas. There is much pontification on the nature of things, and plenty of musings over the meaning of our lives and how well we’re spending our time. Four friends set out to help one of their own return to her home. Maggie (Anya Korzun) is suffering from an unnamed disease, but it is one that killed her mother and occasionally causes her to see bright lights. Peggy (Danielle Arden) has taken Maggie under her wing, and Avery (Katie Keight) and Cat (Kathryn Goldsmith) come along to lend their support. They find Maggie’s home, which turns out to be a hospital in the middle of the forest and we learn that it is really an asylum. A mysterious man named Walker (Andrew Jardine), who claims to have been an orderly there and who says he knew Maggie’s mother, makes an appearance.

One would think that could spell trouble, and that some dramatic tension and encounters, possibly dangerous, would arise. One would be mostly wrong. While there is some noticeable tension between Walker and the four girls, the acting feels so flat and the characters don’t come across as especially likeable. There’s a lot of talking (and talking and more talking), the girls for some reason dress in the dead mother’s clothes, and we hear Walker tell of the true purpose behind the asylum. And that’s part of the problem- he tells us, instead of showing us. Outside of a dream sequence early on in the film, where we get some stylized imagery and a glimpse of horrific violence, we get descriptions of things instead of visuals. As a short story or essay, even a novel, that can work, and it can work well. As readers we can choose to focus just on the words before us on a page or imagine things in our minds. That’s the bonus of reading, it offers us that freedom. As viewers of a visual medium, we need a bit more, unless you get a very commanding performance from your cast. The performances in Antihuman, while serviceable, are far from commanding, often delivered in a monotone or a whisper. More than talk is needed to help keep our interest.

The movie’s slow pacing doesn’t help, and at 112 minutes feels overly long. Had we gotten a good payoff at the end that could have been forgiven. Sadly, we don’t get that. The ending feels lackluster and is more likely to have people either shaking their heads as the credits roll, or rousing themselves from their nap they took while nodding off during all of the talking. It’s also hard to pin down the genre of the film to describe it to others. It certainly qualifies as drama (there is no comedic relief), and could be a sort of sci-fi, as we’re not sure by radio broadcasts if a nuclear war is being threatened or has already begun. Taking place in an asylum and the brief vision of violence gives a nod to horror, but there’s not enough here to satisfy fright fans. It requires you to pay attention, but the performances just aren’t captivating enough to make that an easy task.

Antihuman gets props for trying to be a movie with Big Ideas. It is well shot by cinematographer Seth Ward, and the visuals by the effects team from Artist Tree during Maggie’s dream sequence look good. It’s just too bad we didn’t get more of that. Talking about things on end can work well on a printed page, but that doesn’t always translate well to the screen. It’s not enough to be about Big Ideas, you need to make those appealing to the audience, and deliver them in a fashion that holds their interest. To be sure, there will be some that highly enjoy this movie. Others will be less thrilled, or even outright bored. It gets credit for trying. But sometimes, that just not enough.

About the Author

Thomas James Juretus