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Film Review: Human Nature (2004)

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While his lonely wife yearns for his touch, disturbed husband Harry (Donny James Lucas) shuns her advances and throws his energy into his unusual hobby: abducting beautiful women and torturing them in his garage. This terrifying gore fest directed by Vince D’Amato is twisted enough — until you find out it’s based on real events. (Then, it’s even creepier.) The supporting cast includes Cynthia Potvin, Dana McLoughlin and Tamara Pender.


Human Nature
is one of Creepy Six Films’ very first full-length feature releases (right alongside Carmilla, the Lesbian Vampire, aka Vampires vs Zombies). Directed by Creepy Six co-founder Vince D’Amato (a name that may sound familiar to HorrorNews.net fans, as he also put together and directed much of the anthology film Hell Hath No Fury), Human Nature is about a married, seemingly well-off suburban man who thoroughly enjoys torturing and killing women. It’s another one of those movies that says it’s “inspired by a true story,” a claim that often hurts more than it helps as the crowd gets restless and frustrated, asking the screen “You expect me to believe that really happened?” However, to help balance that out, the movie does feature special makeup effects by Ryan Nicholson, so at least it’s got that going for it.

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As I mentioned, the premise is simple: an upper middle-class man named Harry (played by Donny James Lucas, the Cowboy from the wraparound story of the afore-mentioned Hell Hath No Fury) really enjoys taking various weapons, tools, and anything else within arm’s reach to the flesh of bound and gagged women in order to cause harm. Actually, the whole thing is eerily reminiscent of the idea of Patrick Bateman in American Psycho (a book that was translated over into film form in 2000). Harry is well off, has a safe, well paying, white collar job at an office in the city, lives in a very nice place, and enjoys ordering up prostitutes whom he proceeds to tear into pieces right there in his garage. He also seems to have a blurred line between fiction and reality, at times vividly imagining going through with a violent action without actually doing it (at least, in the beginning – by midpoint in the movie, the director seems to have abandoned this approach in favor of the nonchalant, sociopathic torturing option).

The difference between Harry and Patrick is that our main character in Human Nature has a wife (Debra, played by the smoky voiced Dana McLoughlin) who he shares a house with (it is at this point that people who remember the “inspired by a true story” line and call out “How does she not know?!?!”).

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So Harry beats and toys with and finally kills women. He begins with some random girl he picks up, then moves on to his main prey, a call girl named Janese (Cynthia Potvin). In between, he stops by the office, gets in an argument with his co-worker, Dick (Jerry Bannister), seduces then punches out the sexy receptionist, Karen (Tamara Pender, also seen in Ryan Nicholson’s Torched), and still manages to pretend that everything is copacetic when he makes his wife a nice breakfast. Eventually, Janese’s “pimp” (for lack of a better word), Tyrell (played by Kevan Ohtsji, who, like most everyone else, has also appeared in other Creepy Six films), comes looking for her captor, giving us a much needed break from Harry’s sadistic world.

I say Tyrell’s entrance gives us a break from Harry’s sadistic world, but I could just as easily call it a relatively dull, eventless world. Yep, we get that he’s a sociopathic killer who appears to the average joe as a successful husband, but that’s almost all we get here. Aside from the pretty well done gore effects (which include ice-picks to various body parts, hammers to feet, cigarettes to skin, etc), there’s not a whole lot to Human Nature until the end, which throws the audience a curveball…too bad we were all playing any other sport besides baseball, as this “twist” seems to miss badly, making little sense and not tying up anything for us.

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There are some sound issues here (very uneven, often too quiet), and some of the acting is a little shaky, but we can get past all of those things in a low budget, independent, not to mention shot on video horror movie. What we will have a harder time with is how Human Nature feels like it drags, pretty much from the very start, up until the end. Weighing in a little under 90 minutes, there’s just not enough substance in here to keep us horror fans who have seen it all interested. Instead, we go back and forth between Harry making lame jokes and explaining to his victim how Basic Instinct is a great movie to Debra apparently having no idea that her husband is doing anything shady, even though he walks in covered in blood and says it’s because he killed a skunk. And in the end (*Spoiler Alert*), the final payoff still doesn’t bring us the satisfaction we are hoping for, but confusion and frustration instead. If you’re a completist, either of Ryan Nicholson’s work or of Creepy Six Films/Vince D’Amato releases, I could see picking up Human Nature. If not, you’d be just as well off passing on it as you would be checking it out. It didn’t do much for me, and while I didn’t think it was a complete waste of time, I couldn’t give a true, compelling argument for anyone to check it out.

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