A school trip to get back to nature for extra credit goes very wrong, very fast.
A group of students gets in an accident after their bus hits someone, or something, causing it to crash. This is followed by the radio blaring a warning for everyone to seek shelter. Zombies are on the rise, and the fight for survival is on. Can the high school misfits band together to survive? Or are they going to end up the biggest threat to each other?
Unhuman is an odd mix of high production value on what seems to be a bare-bones budget, at times cracking under minor flaws and at other points offering pristine visions of chaos. However, it is the great performances within that help create an innovative story in the zombie genre.
After an initial setup introducing a cast leaning into a pretty standard assortment of tropes, Unhuman doesn’t waste time transitioning into a zombie spectacle–the action hits fast. It either drives the diverse cast into the next set piece or else twists into surprising plot developments. Characters grow in satisfying or surprising ways, often both at the same time. The film’s willingness to subvert expectations with plot twists makes Unhuman far more surreal than is to be expected of the usual zombie fare, much to its benefit.
However, this chaotic approach is also what sometimes works against Unhuman. There can be some slightly jagged editing at times, and the overall pace can feel rushed and missing in moments that would help ground the film a bit more. Admittedly, the cuts may not even be noticeable to most viewers, but they can be a little jarring if you do catch them. The rushed pace does give the film a sense of convenience as well as touch on that clash of low-budget as the quick progression can feel like a product of a tight shooting schedule over style.
Any flaws are pushed aside by the end in this regard, particularly as the group of students transcend their simplistic tropes into much more complex characters–viewers are likely to have fun picking their favorites. The whole cast is solid whether they are having fun leaning into a stereotype, or being given the chance to subvert expected labels and attitudes.
For those looking for a healthy dose of gore, there are some solid special effects and set-up to memorable pay-off. Certainly, the budget does show its limitations in these moments, but (if anything) director Marcus Dunstan imbues the production with a sense of passion on every level of the production to bring some extravagance to these sequences. It will be exciting to see what he is able to do with a larger budget going forward.
Unhuman has got some real surprises that make it well worth a watch for horror fans, which is complemented by a fun energetic style. It’s something of a shame that this isn’t going to get a cinema run, while there are certainly flaws to unpack the overall quality on top of the expectation smashing third act could easily have had Unhuman hold its own on the big screen. Especially since that experience has been lacking as of late.
Unhuman may be flawed, but it is still an absolute blast and the perfect flick for some quick indulgence in to horror, action, and teenage drama. Watch this unspoiled if at all possible, and with as many friends as you can pack into a movie night viewing!
Unhuman will be available On Digital June 3rd, from Blumhouse Television and EPIX.
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Luke Greensmith is an Editor at the Grimoire of Horror and an active folklorist as well as working in film across a few roles. While this can cover quite a wide range of things, he’s a dedicated horror fan at heart and pretty involved with horror communities both online and local to him. You can find their folklore work on the Ghost Story Guys Podcast, their own LukeLore podcast, and accompanying the artist Wanda Fraser’s Dark Arts series as well as on the Grimoire of Horror itself.