They Look Like People Movie Review
Written by R.J. MacReady
Written and directed by Perry Blackshear
2015, 80 minutes, Not Rated
Played at Fantasia 2015 on August 2nd, 2015
MacLeod Andrews as Wyatt
Evan Dumouche as Christian
Margaret Ying Drake as Mara
They Look Like People has a great name. Right off the bat it's set up a premise without even telling you anything about the flick. Heck, John Carpenter's The Thing could have been called this.
Does the film live up to the title?
I'm going to give this movie a little leeway because it's clear that it was filmed for about twenty bucks and change. If you couldn't tell by the actual movie (you can), then you can tell when you see the credit block that has about thirty names, and twelve of them are writer/director/everything else Perry Blackshear, who must love seeing his name on the screen.
Evan Dumouchel plays Christian, a regular guy who works at the office and has a predictable crush on a coworker, Mara, played by Margaret Ying Drake. He's building up the nerve to ask her out, when he comes home to find an old buddy hanging around. This is Wyatt, played well by MacLeod Andrews.
Wyatt's got issues. Like, his longtime relationship is caput for reasons he's very vague on. And then there's the more-problematic issue that he might be batshit crazy. He's convinced that things are taking over our world, things that look like us and sound like us, but are most certainly not us. He hears a voice that tells him these things.
His buddy Christian invites him to crash at his place since he seems without a home. Wyatt agrees, but says he's leaving town for good in a couple of days. The first thing he does when Christian's not home though is start outfitting his home with some basic traps and hidden weapons. You know, just in case.
The rest of the movie is Wyatt trying to keep his mind from cracking, and debating about whether to tell Christian that the world is being taken over by these things that look like people.
This is where I had the biggest problem with the film. I'm fine with ambiguous endings if everything else is satisfying, but much of the interest in this movie is finding out: Is Wyatt crazy, or are there creatures taking the bodies of humans in order to take over our world?
Some might consider it a spoiler, but you do not find out which is the truth of this by the end of the movie, and that makes the denouement a let down.
It doesn't help that People reminds me in many places of the superior (and under-rated) film Frailty. It's basically the same film from Matthew McConaughy's character's POV, shot with a lot less money. That's not to say it's bad. From frame one it definitely brings the ominous, impending sense that something terrible is going to happen. It just doesn't fully bring it by the end.
The fans of indie, psychological horror will probably enjoy this but be aware everything is implied. There's next to no gore or practical FX gags. The sound effects really work overtime to bring some grisly scenes to life, and aren't helped by what's mostly competent-but-uninspiring camerawork.
They Look Like People is worth checking out if you like paranoid, identity-infiltration movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and John Carpenter's The Thing, but be prepared for a slow burn, low budget treatment with a disappointing ending.