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The Human Race

Year: 2013
Production Co: Paul Hough Entertainment
Director: Paul Hough
Writer: Paul Hough

This high concept thriller is part The Hunger Games, part The Long Walk (the Stephen King novel) and part Battle Royale. There's a grand tradition in ensemble horror movies and thrillers where you're wondering who'll turn out to be the bad guys and the good guys, who'll fold up and who'll come through, and it's very much The Human Race's m.o.

It sets the story up showing a disparate group of people having strange visions. In them, they're all crowded together on a concrete path surrounding a grassy yard, terrified and not knowing how they got there. A droll voice warns them to stay off the grass and the only other clue is an ornate wrought iron arrow pointing off in the direction they're apparently supposed to go.

Everyone from the deaf couple out jogging and the tough young girl who's beaten cancer to the one-legged war vet and his school teacher buddy have the same dream, and it turns out badly every time. The girl we first meet, after bearing the same rare cancer that just took her sister from her, unwittingly stumbles onto the grass in the vision... and her head explodes.

Pretty soon it turns out it's not a vision at all. They're all really there, having seen a bright light and been sucked out of their earthly coils to this strange place. Evidently it's a race throughout some abandoned industrial area, and the rules are simple – don't step on the grass, and don't let anyone behind lap you in the race.

The bloodshed is gleeful as heads on everyone from a pair of Japanese kids to an old man disintegrate in eruptions of gore, everyone running the race in a panic until several of the group encourage everyone else to slow down and try to figure a way out of things.

The group splinters, Lord of the Flies -style, into those who want to help and put a stop to such slaughter and those who gang up to kill everyone else so they can win.

It's a good idea and it's pretty well executed until the final ten minutes, when it seems like the writer had no idea how to finish it but was under a deadline. It's got something to do with purgatory, angels on spikes and some huge spaceship thing, and while the movie as a whole is slightly cheap and tatty, it deserved a much better resolution.

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