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By Mariko McDonald | May 10, 2005

Martin Romero (William MacDonald), is a tough, somewhat cynical dude, but you would be too if you were the only one who could see an international conspiracy of evil and the only one capable of fighting it. Martin spends his days alone and his nights hunting the creatures that hunt humans. When one of them gets away from him and into a car that later hits him, Martin must rely on the help of the drivers, Ben (Bryce McLaughlin) & Julie (Courtney Kramer) in order to survive. However, this also requires a leap of faith for Ben and Julie, one that Ben finds even harder to make after discovering Martin’s drug habit. Are Martin’s warnings the ramblings of a hardcore addict, or the result of something much more sinister?

Originally conceived of as an internet film, Mark Tuit’s “Subhuman” is a surprisingly suspenseful and intelligent entry into the Canadian indie-horror genre. It relies on good writing and a strong concept instead of bad CG to put a new twist on the vampire myth and the HD cinematography creates an eerie atmosphere reminiscent of the first few seasons of “The X-Files” (before they moved production to California).

Also refreshing was watching a low-budget horror movie that wasn’t just an excuse for T&A. There isn’t any, (well okay, maybe a little). It also isn’t a comedy, a common crutch for filmmakers who want the blood, but don’t feel they have the budget to pull it off. Tuit, an obvious fan of the masters (just look at the protagonist’s name) has stuffed the film full of appliance based effects courtesy of Flesh and Fantasy (“Final Destination”). My only real complaint on the effects front was not seeing more of the worm creatures, but there is more than enough blood to satisfy most gore hounds and often focusing too much on a horror “creature” can take away from its ability to scare.

The other aspect of the film that stuck out was the dialogue. There is a lot of it, unusual for a horror flick, and for the most part it manages to be both hard-boiled and smart. Unfortunately Martin’s constant philosophizing does eventually get old and his continued jaunts to a local pub to wax philosophic with the resident rummy start to take away from the suspense of the main story. The always strong MacDonald (“The Rhino Brothers”) is expertly cast as the world weary Martin, so we don’t mind listening to him deliver the dialogue, but the character is such a great horror film “hero” that we’d almost rather see him in action.

The DVD includes a short “making or” segment which features interviews with the director and all of the main cast as well as some behind the scenes footage of the effects. In addition there are 4 deleted scenes and 2 alternate opening sequences, some of which really help to draw out the tension with Ben and Julie and although not necessary to the feature do help clarify some aspects of the story. The final feature is a trailer, which sadly does not do the film justice.

For people who like to think as much as they like to watch people lose their heads, “Subhuman” is an indie horror from Canadia worth checking out.

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