Movie Reviews
Humane (2024).

Humane Review: An Undercooked Horror Outing

Humane, a film blending the harrowing depths of horror with the emotive stirrings of family drama, arrives with a weighty premise tucked beneath its belt. Directed by Caitlin Cronenberg in what marks her debut in the arena of feature filmmaking, and penned by Michael Sparaga, this cinematic venture ambitiously tackles the globe’s looming nightmare: the climate crisis. Through a narrative scaffold that unfolds over the course of a singular, tension-filled day, the film ambitively peers into a near-future, mere months post a catastrophic ecological collapse. A premise that is ripe with potential yet, regrettably, it’s the film’s execution, not its concept, that stumbles and ultimately undermines its promising setup.

Set against the backdrop of a world on the brink, Humane introduces us to Jared (played by Jay Baruchel), a recently retired newsman who, in the face of Earth’s desperate pleas, decides to enlist in the nation’s newly instituted euthanasia program. This grave decision serves as the narrative fulcrum around which the film’s thematic explorations pivot. Alongside Baruchel, the ensemble cast featuring Emily Hampshire as Rachel, Peter Gallagher as Charles, Enrico Colantoni as Bob, and Sebastian Chacon as Noah brings a blend of experience and fresh talent to the screen. Yet, despite these promising ingredients, the film’s flavor falls regrettably flat.

One of Humane’s most palpable flaws lies in its narrative pacing. The storyline, although conceptually profound, meanders through its one-day timeline with an inconsistency that jars. Moments intended as climactic come across as underdeveloped or excessively rushed. They leave the audience adrift in a sea of unanswered questions and unexploited tension. For a film that aims to interweave the complexities of a family drama with the pulse-racing urgency of a horror thriller, Humane remarkably manages to dilute the impact of both genres.

The film’s attempt to address the climate crisis is commendable but heavy-handed, lacking emotional depth. The narrative becomes didactic instead of exploring characters’ motivations and moral quagmires surrounding euthanasia.

Despite the film’s thematic and narrative missteps, its technical execution—namely, Cronenberg’s direction and the cinematography—exhibits flashes of promise. The director skillfully uses close-ups and landscapes to emphasize isolation and despair. The visual choices show directorial sensitivity but would have been better with a tighter script and coherent narrative vision.

Performance-wise, Jay Baruchel delivers a commendably restrained portrayal of Jared, a man teetering on the edge of despair and resolve. However, the script doesn’t provide sufficient depth to fully leverage Baruchel’s capabilities, rendering Jared’s emotional journey somewhat superficial. Emily Hampshire’s Rachel, while showing flashes of complexity, ultimately falls victim to the same fate. A character whose potential depth is skimmed rather than explored. The supporting cast brings gravitas to the screen. However, their characters similarly suffer from underdevelopment and a lack of substantive narrative arcs.

Humane aims to echo the thematic resonance and socio-political commentary of classics in the horror-thriller genre. But, it lacks the narrative cohesion and emotional intelligence to fully realize its ambition. The film lightly touches on poignant themes but fails to explore ethical conundrums, resulting in an unsatisfying viewing experience.

The movie’s score and sound design are, however, worthy of note. It manages to evoke a sense of impending doom and atmospheric tension that the narrative itself struggles to sustain. These elements are effective, but cannot save the film’s broader issues.

Humane is a film burdened by its ambitions. It’s a project that, despite its promising premise and the urgent relevance of its thematic concerns, fails to deliver a coherent and compelling narrative experience. Caitlin Cronenberg shows potential for distinctive visual style and directorial flair. Humane, however, remains a testament to the challenges of translating high-concept thematic ambition into engaging, emotionally resonant cinema.

Humane Review: An Undercooked Horror Outing
  • Acting - 6.5/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 5.5/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 5/10
  • Setting/Theme - 4/10
  • Watchability - 4.5/10
  • Rewatchability - 2/10
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