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Review: The Outrageously Terrible ‘The Human Race’ Is A Bad Movie Drinking Game Waiting To Happen

Review: The Outrageously Terrible 'The Human Race' Is A Bad Movie Drinking Game Waiting To Happen

Ah, what would we have to give to bring
back “Mystery Science Theater 3000”? They would have a field day
with the completely embarrassing “The Human Race,” an inept
sci-fi film that seems like a throwback to incompetent
straight-to-video cheapies of the 80’s, the kind of time-wasters that
would employ Robert Z’Dar and maybe an Estevez.

The intro to this slab of tacky genre garbage is foggy, muddy, nearly
monochrome, as the victims of the title event are forced to follow a
single path to victory. Without warning, we see these strangers look
to the sky, as an unseen voice transmits the rules of this “game”
straight into their heads – you must get to the end of the path, or
you will die. And if you’re lapped twice, you are dead. Also, try not
to walk onto the grass that surrounds this complex of an
arbitrarily-chosen jail, school and home, because your head will
explode. It’s not clear what’s funnier – the fact that aliens
invent games with the imagination of a five year old, or that as soon
as they are told not to venture onto the grass, we see a couple of
curious people immediately walk into the forbidden zone, followed by
a head burst.

One of these decapitations belongs to a
young woman whom we meet at the beginning, first caring for her dying
sister, then defeating the same genetic disease. She has a real life
until abruptly being ported to this other world, so it’s something of
a surprise that she’s the first one to die, literally ten minutes
into the movie. It’s also cheap storytelling and a twist for the sake
of a twist, burning ten useless minutes of screentime that could have
been spent explaining why these aliens have invented such a
transparently idiotic game that ultimately proves nothing. The end
credits features a Special Thanks given to Damon Lindelof, which explains plenty.

The job of hero falls onto the
shoulders of real-life amputee Eddie McGee as war vet Eddie. The
character walks on crutches during the entirety of the film, though
at one point he displays his easy athleticism and physical skill
during a fist-fight. The concept of giving a real-life amputee a lead
role – McGee is missing his left leg – is lost in the novelty of
a movie about a foot race starring an amputee. Another gimmick? Your
movie is about a race and you called it “The Human Race.” You
were drunk. We know. That’s always how that sort of thing happens.

Even with a limited but colorful
location, “The Human Race” bizarrely limits itself to indoor
skulking. This allows for cheap character dynamics to play out
among a colorful, international group of victims. When one man, a
Muslim, responds to the bloodshed by kneeling and praying, a white
woman shows her aggravation and begins berating him for being part of
the problem, not the solution, a real and literal “you people”
moment. As if racism in 2014 involved people falsely ascribing
omnipotent superpowers on oppressed minorities.

In the film’s third act, we end up
spending a considerable amount of time with two deaf characters
played by Trista Robinson and T. Arthur Cottam, who are apparently
deaf in real life. It’s a unique idea, with their dialogue conveyed
by subtitles, but they have such generic things to say about their
disabilities that the subplot ends up being insulting in spite of
itself. McGee has the lead role, but the digression involving this
two deaf couple, which segues into an attempt at guilt sex, is almost
avant-guarde in its flagrant disregard for common sense and good
taste. Even more upsetting is the brazen cruelty that sneaks into the
picture halfway through, as a small kill cult forms within the
eighty participants, gleefully working together to toss people onto
that deadly grass. Have you ever wanted to see a very pregnant
woman’s stomach completely explode across the room? You will!

Hilariously, “The Human Race” ends
with not only the skimpiest explanation as to what it all meant, but
also the threat of a sequel. Not to say the core idea is empty; the
possibility that aliens would want to pit us against each other in a
scenario that rewards teamwork but tempts our cruelty and selfishness
is a decent one. As a metaphor, economic or otherwise, it never makes
any really biting observations. At one point, there is a dialogue
about the innate, and hypothetical, evil of man, and you think that
the movie’s going to reveal there’s a monster inside us all. Then a
couple more heads explode, and if you were wise enough to sneak
alcohol in the movie, take a big swig, and plan for the future: this
is a laughably bad movie, but an amazing drinking game waiting to
happen. [F]

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