I’m thankful this film has great actors with pure emotions.
The film version of the one-act play, “The Humans,” is set in a downtown Manhattan duplex during Thanksgiving, where the new tenants invite their relatives over, and they start hearing strange noises. Writer/director Stephen Karam brings his play on screen or the Showtimes streaming services, and choses the right actors to play their characters. Richard Jenkins, Jayne Houdyshell, Beanie Feldstein, Amy Schumer, Steven Yeun, and June Squibb are those actors, and they have their strengths and weaknesses.
The new residents of the apartment are Brigid (Feldstein) and her older boyfriend Richard (Yeun), and they both invite her family, consist of her father Erik (Jenkins), her mother Deidre (Houdyshell), her sister Aimee (Schumer), and her grandma Momo (Squibb). So far, the apartment has yet to be decorated, but they’re still able to celebrate the holiday there.
While engaging in different dinner conversations, issues emerge. And while not every discussion is understandable, it still offers some moments of value.
Lightbulbs haven’t been changed by the landlord, Erik has a nightmare about a woman with no face, Deidre is scared of something in the apartment, Brigid can’t get the grant she wants, Richard suffered from depression, Aimee just suffered from a bad breakup with her girlfriend, and Momo suffers from dementia. And there’s more problems to come, so stay tuned, and prepare yourselves for the tension that emerges.
They keep getting interrupted by a big thump upstairs. What are they doing up there? Could this faceless woman be involved? And the other noises come from the trash compactor and the laundry room.
“The Humans” has a haunting atmosphere with a wise sense of humor and a lot of sincerely acted moments. They deal with depression, fears, and choices that affect their well-beings. And Karam’s choice of actors are all uniformly excellent.
Schumer has taken on a more serious role in “Thank You For Your Service,” but in “The Humans,” she has a lot of humanity. A friend of mine said he hated her and didn’t think she was funny. I felt the same way about Kate McKinnon, but after seeing her role in “Bombshell,” it’s proof bad comedy actresses can do better than succumb to the stupidity.
Jenkins and Houdyshell are both emotional for their own respective reasons, while Squibb delivers one of her best performances of her recent career. The first two have their moments of pure horrors that affect themselves, while the other reflects the mood and tone of an old woman suffering from the disease and them seemingly pulling through. It can be tipsy; I know, because my late grandfather suffered from it. And the final moments with Jenkins are just riveting.
I haven’t seen the actual show, so I can’t compare and contrast, but what I can do is acknowledge how these characters have their own issues, which aren’t solved, and we’re left wondering where they’re going to head off into. Not every play or movie can solve everyone’s problems, and audiences should be able to guess the outcome. Or maybe they already did if they saw the play.
“The Humans” is a complicated film about complicated characters going through their own realities, and while the movie isn’t labeled a horror movie, it sometimes acts like one with all the bumps in the night. Bump, Bump, BUMP!
In Select Theaters and Streaming on Showtime