Arts & CultureCampus & CityCultural Affairs

Film Review: ‘The Humans’

The Humans is a vivid dramedy of a family's Thanksgiving dinner together, spilling secrets that should have been left unearthed.

The Humans is a film that successfully blends drama, comedy, and horror in a way that creates a sense of impending doom. The film based on the one-act play with the same name is Stephen Karam’s directorial debut. 

The Humans revolves around three generations of a dysfunctional family who gather for Thanksgiving, and things quickly begin to go awry. As the film begins, we follow Brigid (Beanie Feldstein) as she prepares her new apartment in New York City to have her family visit for Thanksgiving. Her parents Erik (Richard Jenkins) and Deirdre (Jayne Houdyshell) are very critical of every flaw, such as the creaky floors and the mysterious banging from upstairs. 

We also follow her boyfriend Richard (Steven Yeun), her sister Aimee (Amy Schumer), and their grandma Momo (June Squibb) who suffers from dementia. 

As the film goes on, we see the family engaging in conversation as they prepare dinner together. The characters create tension by picking at each other’s flaws and revealing things that have been kept secret. We continue to learn the fears and insecurities of each character and we see how these traits impact how they react to the environment around them. 

The Humans is a very character-driven film where the audience is put into the headspaces of each character as secrets continue to be revealed. So if you are looking for a fast-paced and action packed film, this may not be the one for you. 

The thing that stands out the most from this film is the award-worthy performances from every actor involved. Since it is a small cast, the film relies heavily on the performer’s commitment to their roles, and each cast member delivered. There is strong chemistry between each performer and the relationships between each character feel so real.

While the film has a very strong cast, in my opinion Jayne Houdyshell delivers the standout performance of the film. She reprised her Tony Award-winning role from the stage play, and she continues to deliver a performance that is both striking and heart-breaking. 

Since the film revolves around three generations, there are references to the differences in values between the different age groups. The film does this in a way that doesn’t feel too forced, but still is successful in making a commentary on the subject. 

The film is very simplistic in many ways, such as the small cast of characters and the almost bare apartment, but this is what makes the film feel real and human. The thoughtful framing of shots and long drawn out close-ups of characters create a visually pleasing film that is not too overwhelming.

It may seem odd that a family dramedy is intertwined with the horror genre, but The Humans blends these genres in a way that feels natural and fitting. The film expertly builds the suspense by having the apartment slowly be the downfall of the family. The run-down apartment is so psychologically draining for each character that it adds to the massive amounts of tension already present. 

Stephen Karam’s directorial debut makes some very bold choices, but most were successful in making the film a standout one of the year. The Humans is hauntingly beautiful and will stay present in your mind for days after viewing it. 

The Humans is showing in Edmonton on November 28, 9:30 p.m. at the Metro Cinema.

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