From A24 comes The Humans, a familial drama that explores the hidden dread of a family and the love that binds them together. Starring Richard Jenkins, Jayne Houdyshell, Amy Schumer, Beanie Feldstein, Steven Yeun, and June Squibb, the story unfolds over one evening within the confines of a never-ending yet claustrophobic pre-war NYC apartment building.
Erik Blake (Jenkins) gathers three generations of his Pennsylvania family to celebrate Thanksgiving at his daughter’s apartment in lower Manhattan. As darkness falls outside and eerie things start to go bump in the night, the group’s deepest fears are laid bare in the sparsely decorated apartment. The fears addressed in the trailer aren’t necessarily monsters; instead, they are finances, depression, health, loneliness, and the unspoken truths. At one point Jenkins asks the question: “Don’t you think it should cost less to be alive?”
As they chat about creatures such as zombies and half-demons from comic books over the dinner table, Houdyshell says, “There’s enough things in the real world that give me the creeps.” While there are horrors likely hiding in the walls of the old building, what feels more frightening is the precarious balance the family tries to maintain throughout the evening. From the look of the trailer, nothing seems terrifying, but director Stephen Karam utilizes elements of horror to highlight the fear underlying the family dynamic. From the decrepit setting to the use of jump scares, the idea Karam builds upon is that the only ghosts lurking around corners are the family’s own.
The Humans is adapted from Stephen Karam’s Tony award-winning play, with the playwright directing the film adaptation in his feature directorial debut. Karam serves as screenwriter and producer on the film as well, joined by fellow producer Louise Lovegrove (First Cow).
Jenkins and Houdyshell star as the emotionally stoic parents trying to keep things afloat while caring for the eldest family member, Momo (Squibb). Houdyshell is the sole cast member from the original Broadway play, and she won a Tony for her role as matriarch Deirdre Blake. Schumer and Feinstein play their emotional two daughters, with Yeun attending the family Thanksgiving dinner as Feinstein’s supportive boyfriend, Richard.
The Humans arrives in theaters and on Showtime this Thanksgiving.