Review: They Look Like People (2015)


Is this a pants wetting horror movie, or a buddy movie about mental illness? I honestly don’t know. Did I like this movie? Yes and no. I liked the duality of a horror and drama elements. But I sure as fuck like the possibility of the issues facing our hero being reality or a psychological meltdown. Either way, this is a watch for any horror fan; They Look Like People has some seriously scary scenes that have lingered with me days afterward.

The film opens with a terrifying scene with our unreliable narrator lying in bed with a woman whose face is blacked out. The camera lingers, and what initially seemed like a normal scene becomes something else, as you slowly realize that what is lying across in the bed could be anything— human or monster. Just a camera resting on a blackened face scared the shit out of me for days.

We then meet Wyatt (MacLeod Andrews) and Christian (Evan Dumouchel), who are old friends. Christian ends up inviting Wyatt to spend a few days at his place. During his stay, we discover that both men have issues, but oddly, Wyatt has been receiving mysterious phone calls from an unknown person. Shifting from male and female, the voice is alerting him to the fact that there is a war coming. Demons are hiding in plain sight and he is the only person who can rescue his friend. What ensues for the rest of the film is the viewer questioning the reality of Wyatt’s mental state.

I found this film randomly on Netflix in the Independent section. Based on the title, I threw it on and got exactly what I hoped for. They Look Like People is the debut film for Perry Blackshear and won a special jury award at the Slamdance Film Festival. This is a disturbing film that will be open to interpretation and discussion for many. As noted earlier, this film can be a horror, thriller, drama, and regardless of how you ultimately identify with it, there is no escaping the excruciatingly suspenseful scenes in this film, most notably the climax. I’ll throw up a SPOILER ALERT here to discuss.

What I liked most is that although the logic says Wyatt is crazy and there is no a demon war coming, we never get that fully answered. The question of what if he’s right is always lingering. Even in the finale, where Wyatt questions Christians identity, his hallucinations regarding what is under the bag are realistic, based on the terrifying reality he could soon be facing. Even when we discover that Christian is one of the good ones, we do not really know that the shit hasn’t hit the fan outside in the world.

Being that this is a site about horror, I obviously would rather view this film as a paranoid thriller, where our hero sets out to save his best pal from a demon holocaust; and not as a film about two friends conquering their mental woes through their love for one another. Either way, however you end up viewing it, both films work. It’s just, for me, that one film works a hell of a fuckload more. So definitely check it out and let me know what you think. E-mail me at They Look Like People is worth a watch and I guarantee you will never look at your significant other on the other pillow the same way again.

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