In keeping with the new and old alternating pattern I've started here, today I look at Perry Blackshear's recent effort, They Look Like People.
Convinced that the population is being taken over by unknown creatures, Wyatt (MacLeod Andrews) seeks the help of his oldest friend Christain (Evan Dumouchel).
They Look Like People was a solid piece of indie horror that's understated patois that really creeps up on you. There are a lot of additional factors that contribute to this, but first I want to praise the two leads, Andrews and Dumouchel. They both give incredibly naturalistic performances, and I immediately got that these two had a lot of history together. This went a long way toward setting up the trust that was needed to make the last act land as well as it did.
They Look Like People was helped immeasurably by some very pronounced sound design and excellent visual choices. The use of darkness was perfectly implemented at times. Right at the top, there's a scene where the Wyatt was in bed watching his fiancée sleep. Her face was shrouded in black, and the camera held there for an extended period of time. I felt it very difficult to keep my eyes on the screen, even though there was no real reason why I should feel such dread. It's such a simple, yet powerful shot.
I think the best thing about this film though, was its perception of mental illness. Wyatt was a largely normal person prone to bouts of unstable behaviour. It was not sensationalized, it happened as you think it might, with those around him react as you think they would. The whole approach to the situation felt sincere and handled so much better than some titles (namely 2014's borderline inappropriate The Voices) I've seen.
At a brisk eighty minutes, They Look Like People was decidedly minimalist, but maintained a strong presence due to the collective weight of the characters, story and technique.
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