THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE [2015]

This film wasn’t available anywhere when I wrote this, it is now on Netflix. Check out this low budget masterpiece!!

 

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Directed and Wrritten by  Perry Blackshear

Starring: MacLeod Andrews, Evan Dumouchel, Margaret Ying Drake

I was lucky enough to see this film as a part of the Sydney Underground Film Festival. I can certainly see why the word underground is used as this is not a conventional film at all, which is made immediately obvious from the opening scene. It certainly cannot be pigeonholed into one, two or even three genres, and has received comparisons to Darren Aronofsky’s PI, as it is a debut indie film made on a tiny budget. The plot is simple: Wyatt is visiting an estranged childhood friend, Christian, in New York City and it is immediately apparent that something isn’t quite right. It is obvious from the start that he isn’t just visiting because he was in the area, as he lies to Christian about his work and the reason for his visit. In reality, he has fled to New York and has come prepared for what he believes is coming.

From the opening scene the atmosphere is thick and black, letting us know that something sinister is in the air, but we have no idea what it is exactly. Contrasting this, the movie has many humourous moments throughout the film as the two friends catch up for what feels like the first time in a long while, though this is never explicitly explained. In fact, nothing in this film is clearly explained which adds further to the mystery of what is happening.

Wyatt and Christian have fun together, drinking, playing basketball; while having very candid conversations, mostly revolving around masculinity, as Christian at one point assures Wyatt that he isn’t the man that he was ten years previous. The care-free nature of these conversations is yet another element that adds to the eeriness of this film as it contrasts with what is really happening. The dance this film has with different genres is done with a deft touch, and despite the complete lack of long takes, the film flows seamlessly.

Wyatt is receiving phone calls from an unknown source warning him of an impending war, telling him that no one can be trusted, not a friend, not a brother, not a neighbour. We don’t know if he is hearing these voices in his head, if they are nightmares, or if they are real phone calls, but soon into the film he becomes convinced that people around him will begin turning into monsters; into demons. He begins to prepare in Christian’s basement, stocking up on weapons to defend himself, weapons that he brought for his trip.

What we see, what we hear; we can never tell if Wyatt is delusional or if what he is seeing and hearing is real. I was truly on the edge of my seat for the last 20 or so minutes, and I am struggling to think of a movie to compare this to as it is so unique and unnerving. The way the movie confuses the viewers as to what is reality does remind me slightly of Roman Polanski’s REPULSION, and the two films certainly share a similar dark atmosphere, but other than this they couldn’t be more different.

Another factor that creates the almost visible tension is the incredible sound editing/design, which is sublime and effectively puts us inside the minds of both characters. Whether it is a clock ticking, the sound of bees buzzing, or Christian’s self-help tapes that he listens to on the subway to and from work, the way the sound is handled helps create a edgy and uneasy feeling almost immediately. This feeling is not only maintained for the entirety of the film but it magnifies, helped also by the complete lack of a soundtrack. The use of silence is also apparent and itself plays into the atmosphere that this movie manages to create.

The small budget is slightly evident – the acting is very solid but it isn’t anything outstanding, while the movie utilises only one main set. This doesn’t detract from the quality of the film though, in fact it adds a claustrophobic layer to the film, on top of everything else. The camerawork is also done on the cheap but is extremely effective, with a focus on facial close-ups and short takes. For a debut film though, what really shines along with the sound editing is the script. It is sparse but to the point.

Overall, for the money it took to create this thing, this really is quite something. Its dark nature won’t appeal to the mainstream, but I imagine that is the idea of this festival. Personally, I was leaning forward, waiting on every word, every action, unable to predict what was going to happen next. This film firmly marks the arrival of a new director – Perry Blackshear – to keep a close eye on, as if this is what he can create with his first film on a self-described micro-budget, I cannot wait to see what he will do with his second attempt. This is a film like no other, further proving my theory that the smaller the budget, the higher the level of creativity. Amazing stuff.

 

53 Comments on “THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE [2015]

  1. Bloody excellent review Jordy! Hey I miss you, not spoken to you in ages buddy, hope all is well?

    I think I’d like this! I LOVE the idea of the sinister feeling in the air, I love any movie or book that paints that kind of mysterious “you know something’s going on but you’re not sure what!” vibe.

    It also sounds pretty creepy and the noises like the buzzing bees etc sound great too.

    So did you have to get tickets to see it on this underground film thing? Sounds really good!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah it was great, the sound editing gave it a very ‘experimental film’ vibe. There also isn’t a lot of dialogue. I got to watch it as an online screener cos of the website I wrote it for. Hopefully it gets wide release soon, it deserves it! Keep your eye peeled! I don’t actually live in Sydney, that’s where all the fun is movie-wise

      And thanks for the kind words! I’m doing great, how are you MmmmKay?

      Like

  2. Great work Jordan, this one sounds exceedingly compelling! That poster manages to be both enticing and creepy in equal measure. I’ll need to keep my eyes peeled for this.

    Adam.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You’ve really given this light a spotlight. I wouldn’t have otherwise heard of or seen this one, but now I think I’ll watch out for it.

    Like

  4. The title of the film is really catching my attention. 😉 This sounds pretty good man. Thanks for the heads-up

    Like

    • Yeah I had to add that about the sound editing, cos it adds soooo much. And it doesn’t look cheap either. I dunno when this gets a wide release but definitely keep an eye out! 🙂

      Like

  5. Pingback: TOP 20 FILMS OF 2015 | epileptic moondancer

  6. I’ve seen this around but never pulled the trigger. Sounds like I’ll be renting it for my plane ride this Sunday : )

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hell yeah man!! I’d LOVE to hear what you think of this one. It crosses so many genres and it gets so creepy….. cos you liked the witch, I’m thinking you will like this a lot. It has that same incredibly dread-inducing atmosphere

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sweet man, looking forward to seeing what you think of it for sure

        btw if you think of it can you remind me to finish my half-ass reviews? I’ve started so many but I keep forgetting about them, my memory is fucking abysmal man. I’d do them now but its 1am and I’m half asleep =/

        peace man

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post 🙂 I love horror films regardless of budget and this one looks fascinating 🙂 Although this one was more of a horror comedy that pure horror, did you ever see Shaun of the Dead? That one is great 🙂 Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve never seen Shaun of the Dead. You thought this one was a horror comedy? Hmm, I’ll have to watch it again, I don’t remember any comedy, but it was a year ago when I saw it

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am quite aware They Look Like People was not a horror comedy. I was actually referring to Shaun of the Dead not the one you were reviewing. I probably should have clarified sorry about that 🙂 Once again, keep up the great work as always 🙂

        Like

  8. Boy, even the title sounds so eerie! This looks very intriguing indeed man, but as you know I don’t have the stomach for horror movies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It isn’t really a horror movie Ruth, its more about atmosphere and whether what Wyatt is seeing is real or not.

      There aren’t any gory parts at all, and there is only one remotely disturbing scene, and really its not much at all. Just surreal and a bit unsettling.

      Like

      • Ok maybe I’ll check out the trailer. If it’s more of psychological horror I can still handle it 🙂

        Like

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