‘I don’t believe what you believe but I know you believe it…’
Horror and comedy are the most subjective genres. I’m terrified of ghosts, for example. For that reason, I find The Sixth Sense utterly horrifying. Others would meet the sight of an apparition with a bewildered shrug. Similarly, I recently re-watched The Big Lebowski, and I was laughing all the way through. My wife was sat by my side, enjoying the movie sure, but not on the same guttural level as me. There is no right or wrong, of course, you like what you like. And so, to They Look Like People…
Wyatt (MacLeod Andrews) is a troubled young man who suffers delusions that the people around him are being infested by some unknowable evil. This manifests itself in the sound of a cacophony of buzzing and the faces of those around him beginning to warp and change. He turns to Christian (Evan Dumouchel) for comfort, his oldest friend who clearly has issues of his own.
First off, this is a weird film. The characters are offbeat, the dialogue is stunted and strange and the direction is harsh with lots of quick edits. Both Christian and especially Wyatt make for unreliable narrators, so we are never sure how much of what is happening on screen is actually happening. This will be too much for some people and there is a nagging feeling that writer/director Perry Blackshear has not made an accessible movie. Having said that, that clearly wasn’t his intention. They Look Like People weaves its way under the skin and into your waking thoughts like an insidious parasite burrowing through flesh. The premise is harrowing, but universal, playing on the paranoia that everyone surely feels at some point in their life. The two leads do a good job in bringing a pair of odd characters to life and they share an almost heartwarming chemistry as their relationship intensifies throughout the film.
They Look Like People won’t be widely seen and it won’t win any major awards, but there were moments in there were genuinely tense and undoubtedly frightening, so in that respect, in the context of the horror genre, it must be considered a success.