Indie movie “The Human Race” has an impossible task ahead of it. How will audiences take it seriously when it so completely reminds them of bigger and better films? “The Hunger Games” already referred to as a young adult version of the superior gore fest “Battle Royale.” Arnold Schwarzenegger even found himself sprinting for his life in “The Running Man.”
A group of people from different walks of life find themselves in a race to the death. After witnessing a blinding flash, they awaken in a strange obstacle course. Among the runners are two handicapped military veterans, a pregnant woman, a mother and daughter, and two school children. Voices in their heads tell them if they break any of the rules given to them, they will die. There can be only one winner, but what is the prize for reaching the finish line? And to what lengths will people go to make sure they win “The Human Race?”
It would help if “The Human Race” added anything new to what we’ve already seen, but it doesn’t. When the “contestants” veer off the path, their heads explode just like they did in low-budget 1990’s sci-fi flick “Deadlock (aka Wedlock).” Director / Writer Paul Hough refuses to play it safe in terms of the victims he decides to dispose of. He also does his best to come up with new and more despicable ways for the racers to treat each other in an attempt to compensate for a lack of originality when it comes to the story.
In the production notes for “The Human Race,” Hough stated, “Unfortunately in life, death has no prejudice. It doesn’t discriminate. It will go after both the good and the bad. The abled and the disabled. The young and the old. The faithful and the faithless. I wanted to create a world in which anything can happen to anyone at any time.”
He continued, “Further, it was important to me to have characters that one didn’t pander to. That are flawed. That are actually a reflection of the society we live in – not just a wishful perception.” I will say he did accomplish what he strived for as far as making each character an example of a certain section of humanity.
“The Human Race” is Unrated. I would give it an R-rating if I were a member of the MPAA. Lots of blood, violence, and disturbing images are the main factor for my decision. Another is a scene of attempted rape that many will find disturbing and quite intense.
Everything about “The Human Race” will remind you of another better movie you saw. The attempt at a shocking ending just feels like a major letdown crafted by a fan who’s watched way too much “The Twilight Zone” and “The Outer Limits.” The only viewer who won’t feel this way is one who somehow escaped ever seeing “The Hunger Games,” “Battle Royale,” “The Running Man,” or “Deadlock (aka Wedlock).” If you’ve already witnessed these fine films, then just move along. There’s nothing new to see here… unless you just want to witness CGI-enhanced exploding heads and other sequences of blood and gore.
“The Human Race” is available now on DVD.
For more articles by Eric Shirey, check out:
“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is Engaging Overall, but Slips into Retread Ground
Blu-ray Review: ‘Battle Royale: The Complete Collection’
Interview: Josh Hutcherson on Doing His Own Stunts for ‘The Hunger Games’