THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE (2016)
Written and directed by Perry Blackshear (awesome name award!), THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE (TLLP) is a scary look at the onset of schizophrenia, and is hands down my favorite dark movie of the year. Even though it may not exactly be a horror film through and through, the final minutes are amongst the most tense and dread-filled that I’ve ever had the pleasure to sweat through, and the direction, acting, and writing are spot on. Also, you can catch it on Netflix RIGHT NOW!
Some horror movies hold their cards close to their chests about what is really going on–they keep you guessing about how much is “in the character’s head” and how much is “really happening”. Refreshingly, TLLP dispenses with that pretty quickly (not a spoiler). When we meet the main character, Wyatt (MacLeod Andrews), he has started to see and hear terrifying things, including watching his fiancee’s face morph into something diabolical while she sleeps. In a panic, he runs and ends up in the city, crashing with his old friend Christian (Evan Dumouchel), who he hasn’t seen in years.
Christian is a really interesting character. When we first meet him, he is pumping iron in the gym, listening to affirmations on his iPod, and it is obvious that he has a huge crush on his manager, Mara (Margaret Ying Drake), at the design firm where he works. Though he is handsome, muscular, and hilarious, it quickly becomes apparent that Christian is suffering from almost crippling anxiety.
As Wyatt and Christian reconnect, Wyatt’s creeping mental illness starts to manifest more and more. He gets calls at night on his cellphone (which only he can hear ring) from a creepy voice warning him of the imminent invasion by demons that look just like people. The voice tells him to collect weapons and sulfuric acid, which he starts amassing in the basement. When Christian finally works up the nerve to ask Mara out, Wyatt meets her and suddenly the nightly calls seem like they are coming from her.
The chemistry between all the actors in phenomenal. Wyatt and Christian really seem like they’ve known each other for years. Wyatt goes in and out of his delusional state, and is so charming and funny when he’s not full of paranoia, that he manages to hide the worst of it from everyone, even as things are building and building to something horrific.
I don’t want to spoil what happens or where all this goes, but will say that not one moment rings false, even as shit gets more and more dire. I was literally squirming in my seat by the end. Seriously disturbing, but also human and real somehow. Not since THE BABADOOK have I seen a film that mixes terror and heartbreak so effectively.
If you are okay with movies that aren’t straight up monster/slasher/jump cut/zombie fiestas, and are willing to take a chance on a low budget indie critter, I bet you will be happily surprised by this awesome film.
MY RATING: TERRIFYING, HUMAN, AND AWESOME!!!
Tune in tomorrow for our first guest post…