Title: They Look Like People

Also known as:

Year: 2015

Genre: Drama / Mystery / Thriller

Language: English

Runtime: 80 min

Director: Perry Blackshear

Writer: Perry Blackshear

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4105970/

Wyatt has been seeing and hearing things. He thinks that certain people around him are not quite what they seem, and that they have to be taken care of somehow before it ends with a war. While he questions his own sanity, how could he be sure?

Our thoughts:
Perry Blackshear has some credits to him, but with his independent film "They Look Like People" he is likely to become a name to familiarize yourself with. "They Look Like People" is a small film with big ideas, and it manages to get every single one of them across. To quickly explain the movie, I'd tell you to imagine an independent psychological drama version of "They Live". Though the movie you might see in your head when I say that might be very different from the one I saw, then at the very least I can home it will intrigue you enough to watch this paranoia drama.

Christian's job is going well, except for the little detail that he is trying to get a date with his boss. On the night that he finally succeeds in asking her out, an old friend appears and is seemingly in need of a place to stay. Wyatt seems a bit desperate, but other than that he appears to be the good old Wyatt. But that's not exactly true, as he has to fight off voices in his head, strange dreams at night, and the thought that everyone around him is an evil creature. Wyatt is waiting for a war that no one else knows about.

One of the very first things that won me over with "They Look Like People" was when Wyatt is talking to a doctor about schizophrenia. And don't worry, this does not reveal that he has schizophrenia - but it does make sure that there's no stupid schizo twist at the end of the movie. The second thing that makes this a movie worth spending the time on is that it is actually a drama. It doesn't shower you with the surreal, twisted dreams and hallucinations that Wyatt has. It doesn't come to a conclusion where everyone turns into monsters. No, deep down "They Look Like People" is actually emotional and peaceful. It's not a movie about a man going insane, nor is it about the only man who can see monsters. It is a wonderful movie about a man trying to deal with his internal struggles in the most reasonable ways.

My only real issue with "They Look Like People" is that in certain scenes that are trying to lighten the mood (like the friends playing with each other in silly ways), it feels as your typical independent comedy. Even though I knew it wasn't even a comedy, the feeling I often get from modern indie comedies are that they put random scenes of silly nonsense. This movie did that to establish that the friends know each and have a past, but when watching the scenes I couldn't shake off the feeling that it was just an "on the spur of the moment" scene - perhaps to make the movie a bit longer. A tiny issue in an otherwise solid movie, so it does not lessen the experience.

The movie puts an emphasis on following Christian, keeping Wyatt as the "friend", but it's still obvious that Wyatt is the most important part of the movie. It's an interesting way of executing it, because it puts us in the shoes of Christian as someone who is watching a man with issues - instead of putting us in that man's shoes. The further we go into the movie, the more we switch over to Wyatt (and I am very glad that is the case), but the relationship between the two also grows.

Yes, there are moments when "They Look Like People" is creepy and intense. The audience are invited to Wyatt's paranoia because we don't really know if he is right or not. The movie ascends towards the end to something very powerful. To me, the movie is still mainly a peaceful drama. It's good to see a movie that actually tries to show a disorder in a toned down manner, instead of constantly going over-the-top. A lot of the time, mental disorders are used for plot to make sure that the filmmakers can do whatever they want - because it can hide behind the disorder. It doesn't make those movies bad, but it makes "They Look Like People" all the more interesting.

Positive things:
- It's about a man who sees and hears things, but it never steps out of the frames of a drama.
- Great acting especially by MacLeod Andrews, but Evan Dumouchel and Margaret Ying Drake deseve equal credit.
- Has an emotional impact that I didn't expect.

Negative things:
- The few scenes that felt shot and added on the spur of the moment.

Gore: 0.5/5
Nudity: 0/5
Story: 3/5
Effects: 3/5
Comedy: 2.5/5

We watched this movie thanks to:
Fantasia International Film Festival 2015

Reviewed by:


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