Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Film Review: They Look Like People (2015)

They Look Like People (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"The plot is thin, though, and it often feels like there isn't much going on."

Wyatt (MacLeod Andrews), a troubled young man, suspects the people around him are turning into evil creatures...

They Look Like People feels like a short story that was unnecessarily stretched into a feature length film. In other words, the plot is simple and thin. Wyatt returns to New York City where he reunites with his close friend, Christian (Evan Dumouchel). Christian invites Wyatt to stay at his apartment, unaware of his psychotic tendencies. The first hour or so of the film follows these characters as they essentially bond. Occasionally, Wyatt experiences a peculiar hallucination – usually in the form of a phone call warning him of an invasion. It spends quite a bit of time developing its characters, but it never really feels like the plot is moving. It leads to a tense climax, but the ending doesn't leave an impression. It's like watching a fuse for one hour, watching it speed up, then leading to a popper explosion.

They Look Like People is an indie horror/drama film. So, I can't say I'm surprised. I don't mean that as a jab, I think indie filmmakers are wonderful, but they tend to follow a familiar trend – long scenes of nothing, silence used to build suspense, and plots with deep meanings but little action. (And I'm not talking boom-bang action, either.) The best example of this, or perhaps the worst, is a film called Anguish. This film suffers from many of the same issues, too. The slow-burn pace occasionally works; when it doesn't, you're left with a dreadfully slow movie. The film is about mental illness, but the plot hardly builds on that. It leaves everything to Wyatt's character, but it doesn't have a bridge to push him to the end. It leads to a strong climax, but the ending is underwhelming, especially considering the wait.

The acting was good, though. MacLeod Andrews gives a dedicated performance. Evan Dumouchel is also strong. The film is shot well. It doesn't use music – at least, I don't remember any music. Some of the effects were mediocre, but it doesn't use much anyway. The film was written and directed by Perry Blackshear. I don't think this movie is great, but I think Blackshear is talented. He pulled great performances from his cast, he created some compelling characters, and he can create some great suspense. In terms of writing, however, Blackshear's plot isn't very strong. Compelling characters in an uneventful, by-the-books story are damn-near wasted.

Overall, They Look Like People is a decent film. I liked the focus on character, I liked the concept, and the climax is strong. The plot is thin, though, and it often feels like there isn't much going on. The slow pace doesn't help the uneventful moments in the film, either. If you're looking for a similar film with better execution, check out Take Shelter. If you have Netflix and don't want to spend more money, this is a decent substitute.

Score: 5/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood.

No comments:

Post a Comment