Unhuman is Blumhouse’s latest horror comedy bringing group of misfit teens reminiscent of the Breakfast Club into a high octane zombie filled horror flick. The teenagers in Unhuman follow the classic tropes of the 80s high school teen drama, but throughout the movie a depth of character is revealed. The pain behind the bullying is a major part of the jock’s arc, while the impact of said bullying plays into the motivation of those considered “losers.”
Benjamin Wadsworth plays Randall, an unpopular “loser” at Evanston Hill high school. Drew Schied plays Steven another unpopular “loser” who is friends with Randal. Uriah Shelton plays Danny the popular jock who bullies both Randall and Steven. Each of these characters have an underlying darkness and pain to them with Danny as the school’s bully, specifically a tormentor of both Randall and Steven.
Randall and Steven are bullied enough, but the true darkness that this kind of vengeance can lead to is on full display in Unhuman. Randall and Steven, but Randall especially, lose themselves and wind up traumatizing their classmates with their actions. The Illuminerdi had the opportunity to speak with Uriah Shelton, Drew Shied, and Benjamin Wadsworth about their characters in Unhuman and how they connected to each of them.
During our interview we asked Drew, Benjamin, and Uriah, how they brought sympathy into each of their characters who all have a darkness to them. Drew Scheid was the first to answer explaining that when building a character he looks at them as a real person and how their experiences have shaped them leading to their actions. And while he may not agree with Steven’s actions he can understand how he got to where he is in Unhuman.
“Kind of for every character you give, you’re building this person and then they are a person and you need to love this person that you’re being. And you have sympathy for yourself in your everyday life and then that’s the same thing. I have sympathy for Steven because I’m being him and I’m going from everything that’s happened to him, it makes sense why I’m doing the things. Even though maybe Drew is looking at and being like, ‘That’s weird.’”
Having empathy for the character while putting aside ones own feelings brings an authenticity to the performance. When embodying the character it seems one needs to understand their point of view instead of judging it. Uriah Shelton, who plays Danny a major bully in Unhuman, explained that when approaching a character who can be seen as “a bad guy” it is important to remember the character doesn’t see themselves that way.
“No, I agree with you completely. I think that when you are building a character you can’t come at it from a place of, ‘Oh this is a bad guy. I’m just going to play him like a bad guy.’ Bad guys don’t think they’re bad guys. Bad guys have a reason for being bad guys that is completely justifiable to them.
What they’ve experienced, how their environment and social structure shaped them. So, you just try to play it as honestly as possible, being like, ‘Ok, just because this guy is doing this. Doesn’t mean he’s necessarily bad.’ And even if he’s doing things that’s hurting other people something led to that. So, you figure out what led to that and it gives you a lot of honesty with the character.”
Benjamin Wadsworth’s character Randall has a surprising amount of darkness in him that is shown as Unhuman progresses after he was pushed to his breaking point. However, what is interesting about Benjamin’s portrayal is how he finds a way to add sympathy to this character. Instead of fully focusing on the fact that Randall has experienced bullying for years before the events of Unhuman he looks at his friendship with fellow “loser” Steven.
“That’s definitely why I had a lot of sympathy for Randal because I can understand why he’d feel the way he does. Because of having experienced a certain thing he’s had to experience that was not positive in his life. But also I think a way that the audience can maybe be a little sympathetic towards Randall is his caring for Steven. Trying to calm him down and trying to tell him that everything’s ok. And he doesn’t want his friend to be too distraught.”
URIAH SHELTON REVEALS HOW HIS OWN EXPERIENCED HELPED HIM UNDERSTAND HIS UNHUMAN CHARACTER
During the film it is revealed that Uriah Shelton’s character Danny struggles with body image issues and his self loathing is a major part of what leads to his bullying. Now this is not an excuse, but it brings a certain clarity to the character. When his motives are understood it leads to the possibility of changing the behavior. Uriah Shelton revealed how he was able to connect with Danny and how his own struggles with weight issues helped him understand Danny.
“One thing I really could identify with is, I was never overweight, but I was severely underweight from a motorcycle wreck I was in. So, I know what it’s really like to look in the mirror and hate what you see. And just be ripped open and basically kind of become a shadow of your former self. And it can have really severe psychological effects and there’s a lot of damage that you have to grow through with stuff like that too.
And kind of being able to show some of that on screen and show that pain of what it’s like, what it’s like hating yourself and hating what you see. The kind of wrong ways it can manifest itself, but also the resolution at the end when you figure it out and you like, ‘Ok, alright. You don’t have to be like this.’ You can do the work and you can put in the hard effort and end up with a result that you’re happy with. But it doesn’t just come from what’s on the outside. He also finds out in the movie that it’s more important what happens on the inside too.”
Danny turns out to be one of the most interesting characters in Unhuman with a truly compelling arc throughout the movie. The revelation of his body image issues and how it impacts his psyche are a major turning point for the character. Each of the characters in Unhuman have underlying demons and insecurities that impact their actions in the movie. But these three characters in particular have pain that causes them tp lash out leading to truly abhorrent actions. How Uriah, Drew, and Benjamin were able to bring the characters to life on screen, while adding an element of sympathy gives what could be very basic “bad guys” a surprising depth that audiences may be able to empathize with.
Unhuman is available on digital and Epix now. Are you going to watch Unhuman? Do you like how Uriah, Drew, and Benjamin worked to infuse sympathy into their characters? What do you think about how Unhuman approaches bullying? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or on our social media and check back with The Illuminerdi for more.