This Is Horror head of film and television Jason Hicks continues to run down his top five films shown at Film Four Frightfest 2015. In at number four is low budget indieThey Look Like People from director Perry Blackshear.
“They Look Like People is tense, refreshingly different and will keep you engaged throughout.”
This great, imaginative feature debut from director Perry Blackshear proves to be a perfect example of what can be done in independent cinema despite a lack of budget.
Obsessed with success and with exuding confidence, Christian (Evan Dumouchel) is an upwardly mobile marketer. He works hard at projecting a certain image, and hopes that a possible promotion is going to help him convince new girl Mara (Margaret Ying Drake) out on a date. Wyatt (MacLeod Andrews) has recently given up his job as a gardener in a nunnery and appears to be down on his luck. When the two previously close friends happen to meet up in New York after a gap of some ten years, Christian convinces Wyatt to stay with him and they start to try and rekindle their lost friendship.
What Christian does not know however is that Wyatt has become convinced that the world is ending; people are contracting some kind of virus that makes them become ‘one of them’, and an otherworldly voice is telling him to prepare for the quickly approaching cataclysm. When Christian does discover what is worrying Wyatt so much though, he decides to risk everything he has been trying to build to help his friend. Is Wyatt mentally disturbed or is he indeed somehow in possession of a deadly secret.
Where so many films, even genre ones, are so often overly reliant on visual bells and whistles to make up for a lack of good story, what writer/director Blackshear has brilliantly done with this drama based horror film is to remember the fact that in cinema, character is key. The way that Blackshear has crafted his screenplay means that you genuinely begin to care for both Wyatt and Christian as they get to know each other again. Their well observed interactions come across as very real, funny and heart-warming, and indeed are vital in guiding you to the point where you are fully invested in what starts to happen as Wyatt’s mind appears to unravel and Christian’s life falls apart as he becomes prepared to go to ends that are potentially lethal to himself to help his friend.
They Look Like People may be a bit rough around the edges here and there, but it is a very small point given what has been achieved here on such a low budget. Brilliantly wrapping what just could be a genuine, albeit fantastical, end-of-days event around a very real world look at friendship, mental illness and the insecurities that people carry with them, They Look Like People is tense, refreshingly different and will keep you engaged throughout.
Director: Perry Blackshear
Starring: Evan Dumouchel, MacLeod Andrews, Margaret Ying Drake
Certificate: not currently certified
Release date: 2015