The Maelstrom International Fantastic Film Festival is now in its fourth year of showing science fiction, action, horror, and animated movies to Seattle area audiences. This year's festival includes the United States premier of "The Human Race" which debuted as a featured midnight presentation and turned out to be quite the unexpected surprise.
"The Human Race" was written and directed by Paul Hough and tells a story about a group of people who mysteriously appear at a secluded and deserted location and are told that they must compete against each other in a footrace that will only leave one of them left alive. The cast includes Paul McCarthy-Boyington, Eddie McGee, Trista Robinson, and a debut performance by Brianna Lauren Jackson.
From the very beginning, people drop off in a literally explosive fashion either by trying to escape, breaking one of the rules, or by being lapped twice by another member of the competition. Some immediately give up and are resigned to their fate, others develop a strategy to stay alive, and others are just trying to figure out what is going on as the blood splattering mad dash to survival begins to unfold.
Writer/director Paul Hough does a great job balancing out what, at first, is a very large group of people in a story that is fairly straight forward, but becomes more and more complex as everything begins to unfold. He gives the audience a chance to get to know a few of the key players by showing what they were doing in the moments before being zapped to the location of the race.
The overall idea of the story is reminiscent of other movies like Battle Royale and The Hunger Games along with the mind bending brutality of the original Saw movie. One of the more impressive things about the story is how Hough chose to include people with various disabilities as major characters. This grounded the movie in a stark reality that showed how the selection process was totally random and not made up of ideal candidates. Big props to Hough for taking it there.
This is by no means a perfect movie as there are several scenes that you wish would just go away and some of the acting made you hope those people would be killed off sooner rather than later, but given the fact that the whole thing was put together for less than $100,000, I would say that "The Human Race" is actually quite an achievement. There's even an interesting twist at the end that gives you hope for a potential sequel and, if it ever is put together, I would be more than happy to give it a shot as this first effort has to be considered a major success.