They Look Like People is like a well made student film. It looks good, the acting is good, but you can’t help but feel like every aspect of the story was made to reduce costs. They Look Like People deals with big ideas in small places; apartments, basements, rooftops, but never builds to anything to satisfy those ideas. It’s cheap. Now don’t take that as meaning They Look Like People looks cheap, it has striking images. My problem is those images are never weaved into a satisfying viewing experience.
Christian (Evan Dumouchel) and Wyatt (Macleod Andrews) have both gotten out of bad relationships. Christian fills his void with working out, self-help tapes and dating his supervisor Mara (Margaret Ying Drake). The hole in Wyatt’s life is filled by a different cause. After moving in with Christian, Wyatt receives late night phone calls from a woman who warns him about an upcoming demon invasion. Additionally, the voice tells Wyatt some demons are already on earth disguised as everyday people. Think They Live without the sunglasses or satire. Or the 2002 horror film, Frailty, where Bill Paxton believes people are demons in disguise… wait, that’s exactly the same. Well, it’s still a good premise.
The “demons” are exclusively seen in Wyatt’s visions and dreams. There isn’t much to them. A couple times you see someone’s eyes roll back to reveal an ominous white sclera, but that’s it. I can’t decide if I like the idea they never show us anything or hate it. I think it leans more towards the former. It takes discipline to hold back when you’re dealing with monsters. There’s a good chance a decision was made for budgetary reasons—I’m sure it was part of the reason—but it provides the audience with a certain air of mystery.
Also, I was disappointed by a lack of mythology to Wyatt’s obsession. There are sprinklings, “there will be a loud clap of thunder before the end of the world” (not a direct quote) but most details are kept under wrap. I also don’t care about the breakdown of Christian’s personal life. I don’t see why he needs to be in the film even. His presence adds tension to Wyatt’s mental deterioration but their relationship is boring.
As a Netflix movie, They Look Like People is fine. It has good ideas with good performances but I would never pay to see it. The phrase: “Bang for your buck” comes to mind. They Look Like People doesn’t have much bang–maybe enough for fifty cents. If you’re an aspiring actor or filmmaker it might be educational but there is lots of room to grow… Hopefully, not into a demon.
Just toolin’ around.