Monday, August 6, 2018

You've Been Terminated

I've said it before and I'll say it again: considering what a large percentage of the modern world spends its days sitting at computer desks, it's shocking how few office-set horror movies there are. Hence, anytime one shows up, even in the trenches of Amazon Prime, it's a pretty immediate watch on my end.

Quick Plot: Annabelle, an internet webcam stripper attempting to make a go at the office lifestyle, shows up late for a job interview just in time to literally catch Thomas Redmann (Bad Boy Bubby himself, Nicholas Hope) red handed, axe in his hand and decapitated victim at his feet. A quick montage explains that Redmann has been found guilty of five additional murders of shady corporate bigwigs. 

Months later, Redmann has supposedly died in a fire at a mental institution. Instead, he emerges to kidnap Annabelle and a few other random strangers who had some part in his conviction. Chained to a desk, the victims (which include a phony psychic, veteran detective, failed defense attorney, successful prosecutor, and fellow eyewitness) must prove Redmann's innocence while following his fairly straightforward rules. 

I've pined time and time again for more office-based horror films, a subgenre of which is surprisingly sparse (further reminder for why despite its shortcomings, The Belko Experiment was such a welcome treat). Produced by Fangoria (remember them?), Inhuman Resources's best, well, resource is its very setting, and abandoned office building that does indeed lend itself to some W.B. Mason-sponsored arsenal improvisation. 

The rest of it plays decently enough as a low budget post-Saw meets And Then There Were None saga set in a token grimy industrial location. As Annabelle, Kelly Paterniti has a sympathetically plucky Danielle Harris vibe that's easy to root for. Director Daniel Krige keeps the story moving at a decent pace, and the script (by the writing team of Jonathon Green and Anthony O'Connor) offers some worthwhile twists to keep things from falling into trite territory.

Most of the effects are practical, which makes sense when makeup supervisor Tom Savini shows up in an annoying "let's cram some female nudity in here" cameo. A fingernail tear-off feels more try-hard than scary, but the rest of the violence is served with a more effective wink. Inhuman Resources isn't quite a horror comedy, but its best asset is its undercurrent of dark humor. This is never clearer than in its finale, which manages to close the film out on just the right note.

High Notes
It's not shocking that Nicholas Hope would turn in an interesting performance, but it is a pleasant surprise that his character gets a more nuanced backstory late in the game

Low Notes
Look, if your entire cast is Australian, just let your movie be SET where it's obviously filmed instead of forcing your poor actors to stretch their syllables through American accents that they clearly can't handle

Lessons Learned
In a pinch, a severed leg makes for an excellent bludgeon

A regional manager should never be confused with a murderer

Efficient typing skills can be life-saving in ways you'd never expect

Based on its cover and synopsis, I did not queue up Inhuman Resources with high expectations. I still wouldn't come near calling it high quality, but it's decent entertainment for a 90 minute straight-to-wherever black humor horror. 

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