“This is a film that has characters you've never seen before, and does with them unthinkable things.” – Writer/Director Paul Hough
Want to see something truly gutsy and surprising? One day in a major US city, a pack of civilians disappear in their tracks, only to rematerialize in a far-away place they are completely unfamiliar with. They are people from every walk of life, young, old, athletic, crippled. They will be non-consensual participants in a surrealistic marathon out of their worst nightmares. Commands are barked. Impossibly, each person hears these orders in their own voice and language. The gist of it is horribly straightforward: “If you are lapped, you die. If you step off the path, you die. One hundred will start but only one will cross the finish line alive.”
Avid members of the Fantasia family first encountered the work of writer/director Paul Hough (son of LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE director John Hough!) when we screened his unforgettable documentary THE BACKYARD in 2002, followed by his short film THE ANGEL, which took home an audience prize. Startling, violent and powerful, THE HUMAN RACE is an altogether different animal. Rarely does one find a film that frequently takes the kinds of crazy chances that this one risks. For starters, the charismatic lead is played by Eddie McGee, a one-legged performer who brawls and executes stunts. Want another example? Two characters in the film are deaf so we get prolonged intense dialogue sequences conveyed solely though subtitled sign language — and it works! THE HUMAN RACE is a blood-soaked, character-driven sci-fi/action/horror tribute to the overcoming of obstacles, with multiple handicapped characters being given centre stage, and this disability-conquering sensibility carries over to the production itself, which doggedly fights against and conquers impediments of the budgetary kind. Don’t be thinking that this means the film is somehow sentimental or pandering. Oh no, just because it gives its disabled characters a chance to show us how fully-abled they really are, that doesn’t mean it’s afraid to have them die horrifically. Hough constantly introduces elements that would be used as manipulative devices in weaker films and then obliterates them without mercy. You will be speechless, we assure you. While the film couldn’t be more pessimistic about the overriding selfishness and cruelty of human nature, THE HUMAN RACE is an inspirational piece of work that sets the bar high, then leaps clear over it. In the process, it will smash your teeth down your throat.
— Mitch Davis