Blumhouse has made a name for itself in the world of horror. Thanks to successful franchises such as Paranormal Activity, The Purge, and Halloween under their belt, the production company has basically all the space they need to make great films. And have them be the source of expectation for thousands of fans around the world. However, even Blumhouse is not infallible.
The production company was even able to win an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay thanks to Get Out, but they have been stumbling a bit when it comes to translating their content from film to television. Getting one of your shows or movies into a streaming service is a must nowadays, as the audience amounts to hundreds of millions of people around the world. For that same reason, the competition in today’s TV landscape is a cutthroat business, one day you are on top and the next you are gone.
Lately, Blumhouse has been partnering with Epix, a premium cable network, to release some of their smaller projects on television. The partnership seems to be going well, with Blumhouse debuting films constantly on the platform, but the quality of such projects is put into question. Unhuman falls right into this category, as the film has some very good elements that feel trapped inside the shell of a cliché and outdated film.
Unhuman is directed by Marscus Dunstan, and stars Brianne Tju, Ali Gallo, Benjamin Wadsworth, and Drew Scheid. The film tells the story of a group of teenagers, all of them misfits, that get into a terrible situation when a group of savages tries to kill them while on a field trip. The teenagers must find a way to work as a group or die at each other’s hands.
One thing that makes Unhuman feel outdated from the get-go isn’t even its premise, which has been told countless times before, it is its characters. The film presents seven different characters as its main protagonists, and the writers basically took them out of the archetype closet and didn’t change anything about them. The film feels especially aimed towards a teenage audience, and so as the characters we find the jock, the nerd, the pothead, the shy, the annoying, all the characters you know and love to hate.
From there, the movie also falls into some pitfalls that make it rather predictable as the eternal in-fighting that cannot be avoided no matter what. It would be nice to see a movie where the issues between the characters are not used as obstacles when there is a clearer priority somewhere else. This lack of priorities makes for some dull drama that ends up serving as the main conflict of the movie as well.
Thankfully, the movie does want to have fun and delivers in this aspect with tons of kills that rebel in being gory and fast. The film feels very much in line with what Joseph Kahn was doing with his film work in films such as Torque and Detention, where the movie focuses on having this “cool” feeling around it that nowadays feels anything but. However, it is clear that there is an audience for this early 2000s look, and for those people, this movie will just be a ton of fun.
The sound and score are also a strong point, they really manage to elevate the material to the next level, the movie would be so much worse without these departments carrying the film to the end line. A scene that might be contrived or just boring, ends up feeling with a lot more energy thanks to the sound that enhances the kills, and the score that pumps you up, so that you can keep going.
The strongest element in the movie is Brianne Tju, who plays the part of the final girl perfectly, and she is missed every time she’s not on-screen. The actress has this amazing aura about her, and her presence is just really powerful. It is not often that you see an actor on screen, and you say out loud “You are a superstar” Tju is one of those, and we can’t wait for her to get better opportunities in the future. Her future in the industry seems quite bright.
In terms of plot, the movie moves at a very fast pace, there is always something happening on screen. However, some of these moments are truly ridiculous, and you might have to stretch your suspension of disbelief if you really want to enjoy the movie on a story level. The character interactions are also too much attached to the archetype of each character, and at many points in the movie, you can already know what the characters are going to do and say.
Blumhouse might be trying to make space on television the same way it did in the movie space, but things are completely different nowadays. The online platforms are delivering top-quality content that even puts some movies to shame, so it feels disingenuous to try to compete with that with content that doesn’t feel polished enough. So far, Blumhouse has only fallen into the forgettable side of things with these straight to television films, and they need to change it or die.