Everyone who knows me is well aware that I pride myself on my film knowledge. I take movies as seriously as I take life itself – which sounds crazy, but c’est la vie. Being knowledgeable, however, does not mean that I know everything. There are famous movies that I haven’t seen, quotes that I will not recognize, and several incredible indie films that have flown under my radar. They Look Like People fits the bill of the latter accusation. Holy shit, did I love this movie.
They Look Like People is an independent psychological horror film written and directed by Perry Blackshear, marking his feature film directorial debut. The film stars MacLeod Andrews as Wyatt, a man who believes humanity is being taken over by evil creatures who infect the human body, and Evan Dumouchel as Christian, Wyatt’s best friend who suffers from severe insecurity. The friends reunite after several years apart when Wyatt visits New York City and begins staying with Christian. Wyatt receives phone calls at night from a mysterious presence who alerts him of the impending apocalypse, and he prepares himself to fight the creatures and keep Christian safe. Margaret Ying Drake also stars as Mara, Christian’s love interest.
I’m not hard to please, but I’m also not one to throw around meaningless compliments. With that being said, I was blown away by this film. I had no idea who any of the people involved in making this film were until today – but rest assured that I do now. Andrews and Dumouchel never come across as actors playing friends. Their chemistry is authentic and the friendship is realistic, allowing certain scenes in They Look Like People to emotionally resonate in a powerful way. Both of these characters are broken and barely keeping their shit together. They get their strength from one another, making it quite simple for the viewer to connect with the friendship. Andrews is particularly wonderful in the film, playing Wyatt so believably that I honestly had no idea if he was delusional or not until the final scene of the movie.
While the horror in They Look Like People is relatively subtle and contained, the stakes always feel high. The film isn’t necessarily a slow burn, but it moves at a deliberate pace that allows for tension building without jarring the viewer with forced tension or scares. I was gripped from the opening sequence, and by the film’s conclusion, the tension was unbearable. Blackshear’s first film is a revelation that features an amazing story and flawless direction. I can’t wait to see what he does next.
They Look Like People caught me off guard in the best way possible. It’s unbearably tense, well-acted, realistic, and keeps you guessing until (quite literally) the final minute. It’s one of the greatest indie offerings in recent memory, and one of the best films I’ve seen this year. If psychological horror is your thing, check it out on Netflix immediately. They Look Like People deserves an audience.