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The Crack Magazine


The Humans

Director: Stephen Karam

Stars: Beanie Feldstein, Richard Jenkins, Jayne Houdyshell, June Squibb, Amy Schumer, Steven Yeun

A middle-class family in meltdown (in New York) might not sound like the most promisingly original proposition, but director Karam’s adaptation of his own play distinguishes itself via fine performances and some unsettling atmospherics. Young couple Brigid (Feldstein) and Richard (Yeun) have invited Brigid’s family to their rickety new apartment to celebrate Thanksgiving. Guests are Brigid’s troubled corporate lawyer sister Aimee (Schumer) who has just broken up with her partner; parents, schoolteacher Erick (Jenkins) and Deidre (Houdyshell); and grandmother ‘Momo’ (Squibb) who is suffering from dementia. The family’s bickering and joshing is amiable enough, except for Erik who needles his wife about her weight and undermines Brigid’s career ambitions. As the evening progresses Erik becomes increasingly unnerved by the noises and upsets in the apartment, which seem to be manifestations of the family’s anxieties and fears. The film leans impressively into psychological drama and horror tropes with intense facial close-ups, unnerving sound design of rumbles and thuds, oppressively murky lighting, and frequent cuts to sinister looking botched fittings and dark crannies. Excellent performances from the ensemble cast carry the drama, even through a clumsy third act revelation drop.

David Willoughby

Follow David on @DWill_Crackfilm