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IFFBoston Review: They Look Like People

Perry Blackshear's "They Look Like People"

As shown with the critically acclaimed It Follows, seeing things that others are unable to see is an interesting concept that can be put to good use in the horror film genre. This practice creates a sense of mental instability within the characters that assists in building cinematic uncertainty for the viewer. Although it’s definitely not the exact same thing as the aforementioned movie, They Look Like People consist of a similar premise that hopes to provide the same striking reaction.

Directed by Perry Blackshear, They Look Like People is an independent horror film that tells a tale of a couple of friends who haven’t seen each other in essentially a decade. This would appear to be a perfect time for them to get reacquainted with one another, but it turns out to be far more dangerous than that due to one of them experiencing a kind of terror that brings about a life or death scenario featuring what looks to be shape-shifters trying to take over the planet while disguising themselves as humans.

They Look Like People isn’t what can be considered a film that truly fits into the horror genre in the classical sense. When looking at it in its entirety, this is more of a psychological thriller that keeps you on alert by utilizing an intense sense of paranoia to wrap around its story in every direction. Due to this, viewers will spend most of their time trying to separate fact from fiction as everything is coming together.

This style of directing works extremely well here since the suspense of not knowing what’s really happening is cemented deep into the picture’s core in an effectively comprehensive manner. This allows the director to hide the most important twists in They Look Like People all the way until he wants you to get a full understanding of what’s taking place in the isolated world that these two longtime friends belong to.

It’s one of the few movies you’ll ever see that legitimately keeps you guessing until the very end. Many movies attempt to do what’s done here, but very, very few are actually able to deliver in such a fashion. That’s one of the primary features that creates the sense of paranoia that I talked about. If understanding what’s taking place was easier here, They Look Like People would have more than likely lost a large chunk of its effectiveness.

You can say that the acting does take a little bit away from They Look Like People to an extent due to it not being as sharp and crisp as you would like it to be in the early going. The good thing is that the acting does tighten up over time, so it doesn’t do much damage to the film. Outside of that, the two leads end up being critical in setting up the organic tone that resonates throughout the entire duration of the film.

Just by looking at all that Blackshear had to do from beginning to end, it’s clear that They Look Like People meant a lot to him on both a professional and personal level. Not only did he direct it, he also wrote, produced, edited and handled the camera as director of photography. That’s a ton of work and even more heart put into it just to get it finished.

This is a film that has the potential to get people interested into not only the story, but the characters and what it all means in the end. They Look Like People turned out to be more than a horror film. This efficient feature finds itself focusing on a bunch of different subjects pertaining to everyday life in such a small amount of time. It’s an intelligent piece of work that deserves to be seen and given a chance. As of now, it’s on the festival circuit, but I hope it eventually gets a chance to be seen by wider audiences.

Director: Perry Blackshear

MacLeod Andrews
Evan Dumouchel
Margaret Drake

Film Length: 80 minutes

Release Date: To Be Determined

Distributor: To Be Determined

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