Movies with puns for names often come off as seeing themselves as more intelligent than they actually are. ‘The Human Race’ is no exception. The title, as well as initial plot framing, sets the film up to be both about a terrifying race to survive as well as a look at varying emotional aspects of the human condition. By the end of its 88-minute running time the only thing it has proven to be is a shoddy, self-important rip-off of the Japanese classic Battle Royale with an eye rolling twist.
The overarching plot of the film involves the random abduction of a group of individuals thrown into a mysterious race for their lives, which quickly turns into a bloody battle of all versus all. They have no idea where they are or what is going on. All they know is what they are told from a disembodied voice in their head (it’s coupled with their own voice for extra creepy points). Follow the path or you die. Stay off the grass or you die. Get lapped twice and you die. Race or die. It is a mysterious and horrific set-up, even if it is derivative, unfortunately it flounders under the weight of its own pretension and the conflated plot.
The special effects in the film rely mainly on gory, splatter-esque showings of exploding heads and accompanying gratuitous amounts of blood. These prove a good accompaniment to the movie’s horror elements, but make any attempt to delve into human motivations during such an ordeal laughable. Strategic lighting decisions, presumably employed to create suspense, do more to create a headache or possibly induce a seizure.
One interesting, and laudable, aspect of ‘The Human Race’ is its usage of a diverse group of people to create an air of realism. Those abducted include the very young, the very old, people who don’t speak English, and people with various disabilities. The movie is married between subtitles and English. The dynamic this creates is interesting, though spurts of subpar writing do as much to ruin this potential inlet to explicating the human element of chaos as the over-the-top violence does.
‘The Human Race’ is a film that tries too hard. Its overall plot, minus a late, unsatisfying twist, has been done better by films such as ‘Battle Royale’ and ‘The Hunger Games.’ Fans of splatter and survival horror might find enough here to dispense with 88 minutes, but others will be better served elsewhere.