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Useless Humans

By Alex Saveliev | July 20, 2020

It’s hard to fathom that it took at least four screenwriters (five, according to IMDB) to concoct the sci-fi-horror-comedy Useless Humans. Perhaps the film’s jumble of sketchy thematic elements, hit-and-miss quips and general thematic inconsistency are the results of all these conflicting voices. It surges forward from scene to scene so jovially, one is almost willing to disregard the flaws, yet it’s the lack of originality that ultimately brings the entire project down. There’s a particular film trilogy to which Stephen Ohl’s feature is heavily indebted, as if he and his team of writers watched it repeatedly, jotting down the parts they liked best. 

After a brief prologue in which a father-son hunting trip goes awry, we’re introduced to the nerdy Brian Skaggs (Josh Zuckerman), once an aspiring engineer, now an assistant at a planetarium. His boss Kenneth (a hilarious cameo by Iqbal Theba), busts Brian rehearsing his fantasy speech for a space exploration company called Stars with Skaggs (a thread that is never followed through). “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” Kenneth intones, vocalizing our collective sentiment, before firing poor Brian – on his birthday, no less.

“…a rubbery creature from outer space starts to hunt them down.”

However, Brian is too excited about the upcoming reunion with his childhood friends to worry about petty things like a stable income. Brian’s gang includes tree-hugger/potential love interest Jess (Davida Williams), alleged surgeon Louis (Rushi Kota), and rebellious Alex (Luke Youngblood). To Brian’s great disappointment, Jess brings along her imbecilic boyfriend/boss (Joey Kern). As our hero’s “game” is of the “non-LeBron variety,” he sets out to expose Zachary’s “pre-infidelity” to Jess, therein winning over her love.

But then the lights go out, the phones get scrambled, and a rubbery creature from outer space starts to hunt them down. Brian has no choice but to find the leader within himself and, after a rousing speech (which, as Jess points out, he’s had in his back pocket the entire time), confront the alien to save the Earth. “The universe is endless,” Brian proclaims momentously, “cold and impartial. We exist because we fought to be here…” And so forth.

Useless Humans (2020)

Directed: Stephen Ohl

Written: Travis Betz, George Caine, Kevin Hamedani, Stephen Ohl, Ryan Scaringe

Starring: Josh Zuckerman, Rushi Kota, Davida Williams, Luke Youngblood, Iqbal Theba, Maya Kazan, Joey Kern, Edy Ganem, etc.

Movie score: 5/10

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"…unless you're Will Ferrell, less is more."

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