Unhuman Review

PLOT: A high school field trip gone bloody awry, where seven misfit students must band together against a growing gang of unhuman savages. But is everything what it seems?

REVIEW: Hailing from Feast creators, Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton, Unhuman is a very kinetic zombie movie. Or at least, that’s what it appears to be. While the trailer may make it seem like a generic zombie film, there is definitely more beneath the surface here. And that’s both good and bad.

The story of a high school field trip going wrong has been done time and time again. This is probably why the first act of Unhuman feels very tired. They essentially follow all the beats that we expect from these kinds of movies, and doesn’t do much to separate itself from the pack. Because of this the movie often fails to live up to its potential.

Brianne Tju stares in horror in Unhuman (2022).

While Dunstan is mostly known as a writer, he’s started to stand out more and more as a director post-Saw. The two Collector films that he helmed are dark and stylish. But Dunstan definitely makes some odd choices here. The lens flares in the opening are very distracting, especially for the rather tame conversation going on between the mother and daughter. Felt like I was in a JJ Abrams movie for a minute there.

The characters are mostly really unlikable, which just makes you root for their eventual demise. Zombie films and tv shows are way too established for character to behaving so ignorantly to would-be zombies. This was clearly done on purpose, but it does a lot of damage to the characters in the process.

Brianne Tju leads the movie as Ever and absolutely carries the movie, but she feels oddly miscast. Ever is the quiet friend who hasn’t quite blossomed yet. Except that Tju oozes cool, so the character feels very uneven from the start. Because of this, her arc is much less effective than it’s clearly intended to be.

Ali Gallo and Brianne Tju stare in horror at the events unfolding in Unhuman (2022).

I really enjoyed Drew Scheid in Halloween 2018 as the loser friend, and here he’s got a similar role. Fortunately for him though, he’s actually the love interest of Tju’s, which is a big step up from schlubby sidekick. Here’s hoping he continues to be a staple in the horror world. The rest of the kids are mostly forgettable, and aren’t very well developed past basic stereotypes.

The real highlight of the movie is the teacher played by Peter Giles. There’s a scene where he’s reveling in the fact that he’s taking all these teenagers’ phones away. Unfortunately, he’s only featured briefly and with some of the only gore of the film. Which feels like a disappointment given how violent they made it seem.

While the movie is a horror/comedy there aren’t admittedly a ton of laughs. It’s mostly just a bunch of teenagers acting like idiots and most of the funnier moments aren’t exactly intentional. Honestly, I found myself laughing a lot more when things didn’t make any sense, than when the filmmakers actually wanted me to laugh.

Brianne Tju, Drew Scheid, Uriah Shelton, Benjamin Wadsworth, and Lo Graham try and figure out what's happening in Unhuman (2022).

Bringing along his Saw composer, Charlie Clouser produced the score but it mostly goes unnoticed. He mostly treats us to cues versus an actual prolonged score. Still, Clouser contributes positively to the texture of the film and it would be worse without him.

Unhuman takes quite a significant turn in its second half. While I obviously won’t spoil it here, it does enough to make the film stand out from the usual zombie affair. But by trying to “smarten up” it also becomes a bit nonsensical. I’m glad that they took a chance, no matter the end result. Because the last thing we need is just another zombie movie.

In the end, Unhuman is a film with very mixed messages. While it’s enjoyable for the most part, I was left wondering why on earth they chose the message they did. Because “people will be the same as adults as they were in high school” feels like strange messaging. While everything doesn’t click, the movie will most definitely find its audience. The question is whether those happen to be over the age of 18.

Unhuman is available on Digital June 3, 2022





About the Author

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Tyler Nichols is a horror fanatic who resides in Michigan and is always on the hunt for the next great film. When not scouring the internet for movie news, he is usually off watching something dark, writing nonsensical musings, or playing in some fantastical video game world. While horror takes up most of his time, he still makes time for films of all types, with a certain affinity for the strange and unusual. He’s also an expert on all things Comic Book Cinema. In addition to reviews and interviews here on JoBlo.com, Tyler also helps with JoBlo Horror Originals where he’s constantly trying to convince viewers to give lesser-known horror films a chance.