The Human Race (2013) Synopsis and brief review.
Veronica suddenly finds herself in a surreal and horrifying marathon race. The rules are simple: If you are lapped, you die. If you step off the path, you die. Many will start but only one may cross the finish line alive.
The Human Race is a full paced action thriller , where 80 people have suddenly been transported from a block in America into some sort of compound. They are all hearing a voice (their own) in their head which explains the rules to them and as each person dies the voice counts down from 80.
Where are they? How did they all get there? And who will be the last survivor and ultimately the winner?
I suppose there is an immediate comparison to Battle Royale , and yes I can see that but Human Race does have a wider character pool . Everything does tick along nicely and you can see just where The Human Race is headed, but things are not what they seem and through some very good and brave writing and a brilliant ending we see The Human Race rise above a typical “winner kill all” thriller into an intelligent genre film that I really enjoyed.
Please excuse me not delving too deeply into the synopsis or review but please watch The Human Race and enjoy all the twists and turns of a great race 7.5/10.
HI Paul , welcome to UK Horror Scene.
Thanks! I’m a big fan of your site!
UKHS) Your father John Hough is an acclaimed director (and producer) of many genre films including Twins of Evil, The Legend of Hell House, American Gothic,The Watcher in the Woods (with the great Bette Davis) and Incubus (I read the Ray Russell novel last week – fate?) just to name a few. How was it growing up with John as a father and did you ever ‘go to work with Dad’ ?
PH) It was terrific. He is a wonderful father and very supportive. When I was younger he would play football every week in a local team. I’d go with him and watch and at some point he realized I was bored watching. So he gave me his 8mm camera and taught me how to use it. Then, every weekend I’d make a film. Always a horror film and usually always the same plot of friends going to a park and being killed off one by one by a monster.
UKHS) Probably already known from the question above, but how and why did you get into filmmaking? Is it in the genes?
PH) My dad certainly was a big inspiration and I think it was certainly inherent in me to make films. I love movies. And I love making movies. When I was 16 at my school in London I made my first feature length film which was called A Frightmare On Elm Street – my take on an Elm Street movie – about a young American Freddy Krueger who comes to England to attend school – and then kills of his schoolmates one by one.
UKHS) You have 2 short films (End of the Line & The Angel) and a wrestling documentary (The Backyard) to your name . Please can you tell us a little about these.
PH) The Angel is up on youtube and stars both Eddie McGee and Celine Tien who I then worked with in Human Race. It is a short horror/sci-fi with a Twilight Zoney sort of twist. The Backyard is a pretty violent documentary that is about kids who wrestle in their gardens using weapons such as lightbulbs, barbed wire laced kendo sticks, thumbtacks and glass. The movie took an approach that presented their actions without making judgements – thus was pretty controversial. When we first screened at a festival someone actually fainted because of one of the scenes we shot in England to do with blading (where participants cut themselves with razors for bloody effect!)
UKHS) Right on to The Human Race. What was the inspiration behind the film ?
PH) I’d got so close to making some studio horror films after making The Angel – but without success. There was only so long I could go without actually making a movie and so one Christmas my brother told me I just need to make something – which ultimately led to The Human Race.
UKHS) How long did it take from inception to completion ? And what were the biggest hurdles to overcome?
PH) Well, we started the shoot in 2009. And so it was a 3-4 year shoot. This was essentially because I didn’t have enough money to shoot more than a few days at a time. During this time Hunger Games (which people compare the movie too) was announced, shot and actually came out. It was certainly difficult to get all the actors together – but ultimately – the hardest thing was to find the money to keep shooting.
UKHS) There will be (well it is on the DVD cover) comparisons to Battle Royale , and maybe to a lesser degree The Long Walk. How do you feel about this? And were you inspired along the way by any particular films?
PH) The brilliance of Battle Royale made a huge impact on me and inspired me a lot in the making of The Human Race. What someone sticks on the DVD cover is purely to try and sell the film. Admittedly it’s a great quote and the outlet that expressed it was genuine in their intention, but Battle Royale will never be matched. This is not a remake or retelling in anyway of Battle Royale. I’m getting a lot of personal backlash and hate mail over that quote but people should realize that I’m the filmmaker not the marketer of the movie. Inevitably The Human Race will and has been compared to other movies but I would like to think that The Human Race stands on it’s own, and has it’s own uniqueness and originality. As far as The Long Walk I haven’t read it nor was aware of it when making The Human Race. Another inspiration for me was my friend Eddie McGee – one of the leads in the movie. He has one leg and I thought if I’m going to stick him in a horror movie – what would be the one thing that would torture him the most – and that was having to run. Not just a little bit – but run in a marathon with one leg. I guess that was the real genesis of the concept.
UKHS) Where was the Human Race filmed? And where is the facility that was used in the film, which was a fantastic location?
PH) It was filmed in California. We filmed for seven days in a shut down youth correctional facility – before losing all the rest of our locations. So then a lot of the movie actually took place in my house – since over the marathon of the shoot that was the only location I could guarantee access to.
UKHS) The cast were very strong , with of course an amazing lead from Eddie McGee. It felt like the characters were a cross-section of American society. How difficult was this to write and then cast?
PH) I really love the cast. And most of them were friends of mine before the shoot, since dealing with such a low budget it was easier for me to write for people I actually knew. Yeah, it’s a real cross-section of American society and culture. Certainly not everyone is nice and most of them actually share vastly different views and perspectives on life than myself. But it was important for me to write for them and not just create cookie-cutter characters.
UKHS) One thing that personally stood out for me was the sound. Both the score and the actual audial effects were brilliant. Can you tell me a little about the people behind that?
PH) The music was all original composed by Marinho Nobre – who also did my short film The Angel – and is a composer I see myself working with for the rest of my life. He is just brilliant. The effects were placed and sound mixed by Richard Gale, who is a director friend of mine. In our first week of shooting Richard (director of the cult The Horribly Slow Murderer With The Extremely Inefficient Weapon) came to help out by being an extra. As the shoot progressed and certain actors didn’t turn up I thought that he would also make a great evil character – so I wrote a role for him. He is the one who pushes a great deal of people onto the grass and responsible for really whittling away the numbers and increasing the headless body count.
UKHS) I believe I read somewhere that you had to learn your own visual effects along the way. Is this true and throughout the filming process what other skills did you learn or develop?
PH) I ended up having to do about 50% of the visual effects myself due to lack of budget. So I learned a programme called After Effects from scratch. This was a low budget movie and there was no choice. Even on the shoot the actors would have to move lights and carry stuff. Everyone pitched in big time. But ultimately too it created a real sense of teamwork. There were no trailers and actually at the correctional facility no bathroom or running water. So we had to use a bucket.
UKHS) I won’t mention anything as I abhor spoilers , but I loved the ending and thought it was a very brave move. Was the ending ever an issue when developing The Human Race?
PH) I hate spoilers too. One of the things that just got to me was in some of the “supposed” critical reviews the ending was given away. If you try to read up on the movie before seeing it the entire movie will be spoiled. Personally I love not knowing what is going to happen next – and in The Human Race – that concept it at it’s core of what makes the movie unique and exciting because you never know what’s going to happen next – or who is going to die next. The larger scale ending was actually the first thing I came up with but who would win The Human Race is something that actually changed through the shooting process. When it came down to the final two I nearly changed it again. But I love unpredictability in movies and personally love how the movie ends.
UKHS) What were the highs and lows of making The Human Race? Any particular moments that really stand out?
PH) A huge high right now is that my sister walked in to HMV a few days ago and the movie was #2 in the charts there. And it’s currently #1 in horror in the UK on iTunes. Through the course of screening the movie at festivals I got to have dinner with Dario Argento. A few days ago I did a book signing (as part of a book I’m a contributor on called Hidden Horror) alongside William Lustig. I’m on cloud 9 as far as how the vast majority of people are reacting to the movie especially considering all the blood, sweat and tears I and the rest of the crew and cast put into it.
UKHS) So what is next? Are you in the process of a next feature and any exclusives you can let our readers in on?
PH) An exclusive – sure. John Cairns (director of Schoolgirl Apocalypse), who I met at The Human Race’s premiere at Fantasia, wrote one of the best scripts I’ve ever read and I’m hoping that it will be my next movie.
UKHS) Thank you Paul for your time. It has been a real pleasure !
Please check out The Human Race which is available from all UK DVD retailers and please check out the following links.
The Angel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4OuxjgknHQ
UK Itunes link: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/movie/the-human-race/id815301640
All pictures courtesy of Paul Hough !