The Humans :Austin Film Festival Review

October 28, 202190/1006 min
Beanie Feldstein, Steven Yeun, June Squibb, Richard Jenkins, Amy Schumer, Jayne Houdyshell
Written by
Stephen Karam
Directed by
Stephen Karam
Run Time. 1h 48min
Release Date November 24th, 2021
Overall Score
Rating Summary


Coming to theaters at the perfect time as we all brace for our own larger family gatherings, The Humans  invites us to the Blake family Thanksgiving. Just like many families, the Blakes are in transition as the children have gotten older and moved away, as well as dealing with grandparents suffering from illness. Adapted from his own Tony Award-winning play of the same name, Stephen Karam brings it to the screen, as he adds film director to his resume. From the opening title sequence, Karam’s film feels claustrophobic, a feeling that we get used to rather quickly after being transported to Brigid (Beanie Feldstein) and her boyfriend, Richard’s (Steven Yeun) new apartment. Like any gathering of familiar people, this one will have its up and downs, but also so much love, something only family can make you feel.

Arriving at their apartment is Aimee (Amy Schumer), a lawyer struggling with a breakup and her parents Erik (Richard Jenkins) and Deirdre (Jayne Houdyshell), who are not happy at all about having to travel for this occasion. Along for the ride is Momo (June Squibb), who is in a wheel chair that barely fits down the hallway and also suffers from a few other aliments. As the family starts to settle in, Erik is fixated on his daughter’s decision to get this apartment, after all it is in a flood zone as well as many other flaws he seems to focus on while he is there. This is not a happy time, as the tension is thick and although some of them are eventually broken down, there are secrets that are unearthed that could destroy this whole family for good.

All of the cast is wonderful and like most plays adapted to the screen the cast can make or break it and in this case there are no weak links. For only having nine days of rehearsal time before shooting, the cast displays a wonderful chemistry that lends itself to the feel of a real family. With all these great characters, Karam also makes the apartment a character in and of itself, with its cracks in the walls and the noises that old buildings make, you are made to feel like it’s alive. The apartment is not the only thing feeling lively as so much happens even before the turkey is served. There are plenty of engaging conversations as well as playful banter that is funny and filled with emotions. All of this operates with a simple plot, but there is nothing simple about what a complex drama this becomes.

The Humans manages to toe the line of a great family drama and just the right amount of horror, not the kind that’s trying to make you scream, but give you that feeling of dread. I loved this movie and how it made me feel. While my family is nothing like the Blake’s, we do have our problems, but who knows, maybe my family’s secrets just haven’t come out yet. This film ends up feeling so human and really hits all the common reactions that a family goes through when dealing with the stress brought on by their loved ones. But the one feeling you get the most is love and this film reminds us that family is important and we should cherish every moment we get to spend together.

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