“The Human Race” (2013) isn’t really the under-recognized gem that I was led to believe it was — it’s actually mediocre in some ways. The dialogue is downright bad, the acting is mostly below average, and the limited special effects budget definitely shows.
It … still held my attention, though, thanks to a devilish story concept and some brutal plot turns. (Eighty diverse strangers are mysteriously transported to an isolated location, where powerful unseen entities force them to eliminate one another in a “race” to the death.) I do realize that there have been a spate of low-budget, “Saw”-inspired movies like this, and that this kind of story device should be familiar to horror movie fans by now.
But there is some pathologically wicked story development here — consider, for example, that contenders include an elderly man, a pregnant woman and a veteran who has had a leg amputated. And while several contenders make heroic choices, several others take a sociopathic glee in eliminating their opponents. Writer-director Paul Hough might be terrible at writing dialogue, but he does know how to craft a surreal horror story with some horrific and unexpected turns. (Yeesh.)
There is also a standout performance by Trista Robinson as a secondary character. (She is the more tenacious half of a deaf couple who are teleported and forced to compete.) In a film with little admirable acting, she still plays her role with skill and intensity. This is a talented actress.
All in all, this is a flawed low-budget film that is still decent fare for a horror fan. I’d rate it a 7 out of 10.