is more delusional, the dude who sees aliens or the compulsively self-helpy would
be career-climber? Its close, but we should probably give it to the guy
prepping for Armageddon on the basis of a few inexplicable, but admittedly
terrifying phone calls. Together, this damaged duo might just have all the
problems the world can offer in Perry Blackshear’s impressively grungy, horror-ish
They Look Like People, which screens
at the 2015 SF Indie Fest after being recognized with the Jury’s Honorable
Mention for Dramatic Feature at this year’s Slamdance Film Festival.
just sort of turned up in New York, running into Christian, his somewhat
estranged childhood friend. Both have been dumped by long-term girlfriends, but
each has their own special issues to deal with. Christian struggles to get
ahead in his hipster firm, despite his low confidence and self-esteem. He is
also very interested in Mara, a fast-tracked colleague, but he has a knack for saying
the wrong things to her. As for his unexpected house-guest Wyatt, he hears
at night, he gets calls from someone like “Deep Throat” in The X-Files, warning him of an imminent battle with the aliens. So
far, he and Christian are okay, but the invaders have infected much of the
human race, taking them over, mind and body. Fortunately, Christian’s building
has the creepiest looking basement you will ever see, where Wyatt can set up
his doomsday workshop.
a way, Like People is the darker but
more grounded flip-side of John Carpenter’s They
Live, even echoing the title. Blackshear fully recognizes every shoe the
audience expects to drop, but somehow he keeps them all dangling precariously
for an awfully long time. Frankly, the film is such a slow (but effective)
build, it almost defies genre categorization. It starts with general
awkwardness, becoming steadily more awkward, while something seriously ominous
percolates in the background. Yet horror fans should take note, the sequences
depicting Wyatt’s presumptive mania are absolutely chilling.
Macleod Andrews and Evan Dumouchel have the oddest, saddest pseudo-buddy
chemistry one can imagine, but it feels very real. Dumouchel is also
convincingly uncomfortable putting the moves on Margaret Drake’s Mara, while
Andrews goes nuts like a champion. As a bonus, the character of Mara and Drake’s
portrayal are a nice departure for the typical victim roles for women in horror
movies. Frankly, she is more assertive than either of the guys, which is a
source of their angst in the first place.
Blackshear maintains a tense vibe and an almost claustrophobic focus on his
flawed characters. He inspires a lot of audience wincing, but takes the
emotional climax in a direction less traveled in horror films. It is quite a
micro-budget accomplishment that was the hit at this year’s Slamdance.
Recommended for those who enjoy horror, psychological thrillers, and sinister
slacker dramas, They Look Like People screens
again this Friday (2/13) and the following Wednesday (2/18) during SF Indie Fest.
Labels: Horror Movies, Micro-budget, SF Indie Fest '15, Slamdance '15