They Look Like People (2015)

like-people

“Suspecting that people around him are turning into evil creatures, a troubled man questions whether to protect his only friend from an impending war, or from himself.” — IMDb

This movie is less of your traditional horror movie and more of a deep, psychological thriller. Part of what can be so appealing to me about smaller, lower budget indie films like this is that they really rely more on subtleties to get their message across (and to achieve an awesome atmosphere) rather than special effects or dramatic camera shots. This was Perry Blackshear‘s feature film directorial debut, and he also wrote, shot, edited, and produced it, so… bravo, dude, and I can’t wait to see what else you come up with.

The movie follows recently reunited childhood friends Wyatt (played by MacLeod Andrews) and Christian (played by Evan Dumouchel), and you get a good sense of their personalities — and their relationship — right away. Wyatt is the more withdrawn of the two, having recently broken up with his fiancé, and Christian, while suffering from some obvious self-esteem and depression issues (and also recently coming out of a relationship), overcompensates with his outspoken air of confidence and machismo, spending lots of his time at the gym. The two, despite having not seen each other in what we assume is a long while, fall right back into their old habits, for better and for worse. Their connection is endearing and, while awkward at times, you really believe the earnestness of their acting.

We soon come to realize that Wyatt is being warned about, and preparing for, an impending battle with some kind of demons… and while this is literally happening, it’s obvious that these are his own demons he’s battling. Hiding in plain sight, hard to see at first but once they make themselves known, they’re impossible to ignore. His spiral into the depths of this battle is palpable, and the paranoia and claustrophobia that it creates is disturbing to say the least. You really feel like you’re there with him as everything closes in around him. It’s hinted that he suffers from schizophrenia, but it’s never clearly stated, so the ambiguity adds to the overall confusion and fear.

As him and Christian go into the battle together, the thing I loved the most was Christian’s willingness to just put aside any judgment and doubt and go with his friend into the unknown. You aren’t sure whether this is because Christian is succumbing to his own depression or if he’s just reminiscing about a past life, but his boldness is admirable (even while you’re a little scared for him). The unease I felt while watching him in the climax of the movie was intense — you’re cringing and hoping and… then it’s over. Awesome.

Rating: 7/10 | Director: Perry Blackshear | Writer: Perry Blackshear | Starring: MacLeod Andrews, Evan Dumouchel, Margaret Ying Drake

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