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Transhuman (2016) Review

rsz_transhuman1TRANSHUMAN (2016)

Starring Natasha James, Steven Berkoff and Michael McKell

Written & Directed by Nicholas Winter

Transhuman will be released on DVD by 88 Films on October 9th 2017

“Transhuman follows a young journalist into the underbelly of a transhumanist cult, spanning generations back to the nazis and World War Two”.

“Transhumanism (abbreviated as H+ or h+) is an international and intellectual movement that aims to transform the human condition by developing and making widely available sophisticated technologies to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities”.

Thank god for Wikipedia because otherwise I would not have a clue what the hell the title of this film means. The subject is actually quite interesting and ripe for exploration, but this isn’t the film to do it. There’s the seed of an idea here, but the execution lets it down massively.

Coming from Porcelain Films, Transhuman follows British journalist Alex (Natasha James) and her investigation into some nasty business in picturesque Spain. When her close friend Cassie (Rebecca Scott) goes missing, she must help hired muscle Lukas (Marc Bannerman) in finding her. As they do, they uncover a much larger terror.

rsz_transhuman2Transhuman feels like a film cobbled together because if what was available at the time. It’s as if the filmmakers had some actors they wanted to work with and some lovely Spanish locations at their disposal and just cooked up a story to fit around them. But the story is ultra-thin, and so director Nicolas Winter fills the film with scenes of discussing where to go next, driving to that place, walking around that place, with morose orchestral music forever in the background.

The production values are actually pretty great, with a proficient polish over everything. But that can only carry a film so far. Scenes are dragged out forever, particularly one set in a car that should have been claustrophobic and tense but became filler after lasting five whole minutes. Much of the film just wanders nowhere.

The performances only slow things down further but much of this is fine down to the script more than the actors. Each of the characters is pretty interchangeable, stood around in rooms spouting inane dialogue like they’re in a cut scene for an early Resident Evil game. They each do their best, but with nothing exciting to say or do, no way of making themselves likeable, it’s a lost cause.

Any positives from this? At about an hour in, Winter starts to get a bit more ambitious with his camerawork and editing, and Eastenders star Marc Bannerman starts to ham it up which livens up proceedings. The experienced Michael McKell also shows up to add a bit of class.

rsz_transhuman3But it soon slumps into lazy, boring and ultimately pointless flashbacks, adding backstory that’s not needed to characters that have no dimension.

These actors, location and subject matter deserved better than this. As it is, I have to be honest and say I found this a pretty miserable viewing experience.

Best bit: the random and distracting appearance of a Barcelona shirt!

4/10

Outpost 3: Rise of The Spetsnaz (2013) DVD Review

OUTPOST 001OUTPOST III: RISE OF THE SPETSNAZ (2013) DVD

Review by: Dave Wain

Stars: Bryan Larkin, Ivan Kamaras, Michael McKell, Ben Lambert

Written by: Rae Brunton

UK Certification: 18

UK RRP: £12.99

UK DVD Region: 2

Runtime: 84 minutes

Directed by: Kieran Parker

UK Release Date: 31st March 2014

Distributor: Entertainment One

Nazi zombie orientated horror films have been around for longer than you might imagine. Take the cult Ken Wiederhorn film Shockwaves (1977) with Peter Cushing for example. Four years later we had another in the form of Jess Franco’s Oasis of the Zombies (1981). This was fine – it was a cool concept that you’d be happy to revive every couple of years. Since 2006 though there has been an endless stream of such titles for which the pinnacle in my estimation was undoubtedly the Norwegian Dead Snow (2009) . In amongst the goodness though is a veritable conveyor belt of scheiße – to quote our German friends. So much so that a cool concept has become the ultimate in eye-rolling disdain that competes head to head with found footage for the annual prize of ‘loudest groan inducer’ in critics’ circles.

OUTPOST 002As far as Outpost is concerned, it made its debut in 2007 and a solid movie it was too thanks to the subject matter feeling relatively fresh and original, and having a stellar cast that boasted the often unheralded talents of Ray Stevenson. The sequel Black Sun (2012) took a few years to materialise, and despite offering a competent production it lacked the verve of the original. It seems it was successful though as barely two years later we have the second sequel, Rise of the Spetsnaz.

For this episode we find ourselves on The Eastern Front in 1945 where a Russian group of soldiers are preparing to ambush a Nazi convoy. At first their cunning plan is a success, but unbeknownst to them there is a further Nazi convoy following on which soon puts paid to their plan. Once captured, the Russians are taken back to a Nazi prison bunker for the sole purpose of being experimented upon, for inside this concrete hell is none other than an invincible army of undead Nazi soldiers.

Directed by Kieran Parker (who created the story for the first movie), Outpost III belies the second sequel rule of the majority of franchises by actually being quite good. Having said that, I must admit this is due more to a lack of negatives than a stream of glowing positives. The concept remains one that I struggle to get excited by, but in bringing a level of simplicity to the series with regard to the narrative as well as making good use of its (primarily) one location, Outpost III manages to rise to the top of an overcrowded marketplace.

OUTPOST 003Its gore level is nicely maintained, and technically we have some subtle lightning and intelligent camera work. As well as that the movie thankfully retains a level of professionalism as many of the films ilk seem to lack the period detail that the Outpost movies resolutely adhere to. To reiterate – I’m pretty bored of this pesky little sub-genre, however – if you’re not, then Outpost III should quench your thirst for Nazi zombies just fine.

5 out of 10