Adapted from his Tony Award-winning play, Stephen Karam’s The Humans retains the essence of its source material as it follows a family’s Thanksgiving dinner in an eerie Manhattan apartment. Without much plot, the character-driven film explores the mundane and meaningful moments that bind a family. Featuring Richard Jenkins, Beanie Feldstein, and Amy Schumer, the small cast all shine by unveiling different elements of tension within the family. Reprising her role from the original show, Jayne Houdyshell particularly stands out for her enjoyable and emotional performance as Deirdre. While the performances carry the film, the slow pacing, with varying peaks of interesting and non-interesting scenes, is sure to leave some viewers feeling a little underwhelmed. While some scenes stand out for their original and engaging dialogue, many add nothing to the plot and go on for a little longer than necessary.
In typical A24 fashion, The Humans is interlaced with creepy sounds and shadowy movements accompanying discussions about nightmares. The lingering shots on the decaying and run-down apartment add to the unsettling atmosphere, with cliché scary noises and darkness thrown in to add some extra fear factor. However, if you’re expecting a horror film, you will leave disappointed. Rather, The Humans is a slow-paced psychological drama with a lot of talking and only a few touches of horror. Overall, it’s a film that feels like a play. Take that how you want, but The Humans is a film that you will either love for its enlightening take on family drama or hate for its pretentious attempt.