Perry Blackshear's They Look Like People is a quietly brilliant film which uses psychological horror to deliver a resonant portrait of loneliness, depression, and self-defeat. The film is centered around Wyatt and Christian, two old friends who haven't seen each other in years. Christian is a character who has seemingly put his fragility and low self esteem behind him, hitting the gym and listening to self-help books as a way to build self confidence. One day while walking home from work he runs into Wyatt, who looks a little disheveled. Having recently broken up with his longtime girlfriend, Wyatt has seen better days, and Christian invites him to crash at his old place for a few days so they can reconnect. While the two reminisce about old times, Wyatt keeps a secret from his old friend, retreating to the basement every night to prepare for "evil" which is coming. You see, Wyatt suspects that everyone around him is slowly turning into evil creatures, and with the impending war looming, he struggles to share the news with Christian. Told mostly from the point of view of Wyatt, They Look Like People is a psychological horror film that never reveals it's true intentions til the final frame, forcing the viewer to question Wyatt's perceptions about this evil presence. The story paints a portrait of two old friends who have each struggled in their lives with self doubt and depression, and the juxtaposition of Christian, who is attempting to find happiness through a new potential coworker, and Wyatt, a character in who has this me against the world mentality due to be caught in the deep throngs of loneliness is interesting. For me, what makes They Look Like People so effective is how this war Wyatt finds himself in is a symbolic representation of the emotions felt by someone who struggles with loneliness. Wyatt is a character who believes that this evil is all around him and can infest anyone at anytime, which in turn leads him to be secretive, somewhat paranoid, and emotionally isolated. This mentality perfectly evokes how an individual often feels when seeing a long-term relationship end, as the film uses these psychological horror tropes to evoke the emotional isolation and loneliness being felt by Wyatt's character, who struggles to gain his footing after losing his long-time partner. They Look Like People is also very effective when it comes to horror, being a film that does a whole lot with very little, understanding that less is more when it comes to creating brooding atmosphere and tension. Whether it is playing with focus, using handheld or still photography,or expressive lighting and compositions, during the film's more intense moments The Look Like People delivers its fair amount of bone-chilling moments. While the horror is very well done, They Look Like People stood out to me because of its strong characterizations, examine two individuals who have dealt with their self-doubt in different ways. Through this story, the film captures the importance of some form of companionship, whether it be friendship or a romantic relationship, using this creepy psychological horror story to exhibit a surprisingly resonant story of self-esteem and emotional perseverance. Funnier than one would expect too, Perry Blackshear's They Look Like People is a thinking man's horror film that works so well due to its ambiguous nature, being a film that provides chills, and laughts, but most importantly a surprisingly powerful examination of loneliness and self-doubt
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