Super Powers, Shoestring Budget: The Posthuman Project Appeals Despite Flaws

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The Posthuman Project Director Kyle Roberts superhero indie film

THE POSTHUMAN PROJECT is an idea we've seen before, any number of times with varying degrees of success, with outings like X-MEN and GEN-13. In this particular version of the trope, the teens are a group of Oklahoma high school kids nearing graduation. To celebrate, they're going to climb a mountain. Denny Burke (Kyle Whalen) is still recovering from falling off a mountain, in a freak accident which also saw his father disappear.

All is not as it seems, however, as Denny and his beleaguered brother, Archie (Collin Place), meet their long-lost Uncle Billy (Jason Leyva), and his unusual offer. Soon enough, the Burke brothers, joined by their friends Adam (Josh Bonzie), Lisa (Alexandra Harris) and Gwen (Lindsay Sawyer) pile into the SUV and drive off to conquer Mount Dominick, which Uncle Billy now owns.

But a trap lays in wait, as Uncle Billy's plans involve unique genetic experiments. A machine explodes, and the five friends find themselves imbued with Zero Energy, which gives each a unique super power. But will even that be enough to stop Uncle Billy and his mercenary second-in-command, Finch (Rett Terrell).

The budget for this indie film was hardly lavish, and it shows in some of the special effects. Surprisingly, it's not the super powered ones, which came across quite professionally, but rather some of the mountaintop green screen backgrounds where you are momentarily taken out of the story to realize it's a movie.

As with many indie films, you take the good and the bad. The acting was frequently wooden, with dialogue coming across as unnatural between the two brothers, although I've seen worse in some Syfy films. Some moments in the story were less than believable -- yes, I know there were super powers in it, but that's not what I meant. I mean regular daily moments, where you see a beaten-up Archie arrive home, eat dinner, do his homework, and then change his torn and blood-soaked t-shirt, as though we needed a continual reminder that he'd been beaten. Then there's the after-school meeting with Uncle Billy which lasts until dark, at which point only then do the boys realize their mom isn't home and they have to make their own dinner.

On the other hand, there was a lot to like in this. I've already mentioned the special effects used to show the powers were pretty spiffy, whether it be scenes of teleportation or flame throwing. Additionally, Roberts showed some creative ingenuity in the way he utilizes scenery to announce chapter breaks, with the words incorporated into the props, preceded by cutaways that take the film from photo to pencils and back.

Written by comic heroes Matthew Price and Sterling Gates (who also wrote the prequel comic book), THE POSTHUMAN PROJECT, despite its shortcomings, has a cool, retro feel about it. It's not AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, but neither is it meant to be. It's more in line with some of the underrated science fiction television series of the 80s. It's a superhero film that shows how much can be done with so little, with Director Kyle Roberts has shown he has an eye for what fandom appreciates. It will be interesting to see what he does next.

Grade: 
3.5 / 5.0