Sunday, August 2, 2015

Fantasia 2015 Film Review - They Look Like People

The mind is one of the most complex things on the planet.  Despite the vast increase in medical knowledge over the last 100 years we still know little about how it works. When someone has a mental issue they go to a doctor, psychologist or psychiatrist who provide coping mechanisms and medication by trial and error hoping to hit on something that will work and not cause any more harm.

Wyatt (MacLeod Andrews) arrives in New York City outside of his old friend Christian (Evan Dumouchel) Walk-up with a duffle back draped over his shoulder.  Wyatt claims that he has a place to stay but Christian invites him in insisting that Wyatt stay with him. The pair catch up on each others lives talking about the recent break ups of both of their long time relationships and work. Wyatt had been working at a rural nunnery while Christian is trying to get ahead at an Ad agency listening to positive reinforcement tapes that will allow him to dominate in the office. Christian has also been spending a lot of time in the gym to present a stronger bigger presence. He also finally got up the courage to ask co-worker Mara (Margaret Drake) out for a date.

Perry Blackshear wears just about every behind the camera hat for the micro budget production. He writes, directs and edits plus served as cinematographer and executive producer on the project. The story is internal as it gets as it focuses on the nuances of a Wyatt's damaged mind causing him to hear things, see things and believe things to be true that are not. The immobilizing horror revolves around what he will do to work his way out or will he carry out the orders from the voices or believe his eyes and attack the enemies that reveal themselves.

MacLeod Andrews turns in an understated yet powerful performance as Wyatt. Andrews uses a lot of subtle body language to communicate the stress level of his character including lowering his head, fidgeting, avoiding eye contact and throwing in uncomfortable pauses before responding to simple questions. Evan Dumouchel comes across as the ideal best friend in the production. He sacrifices a date with Mara by bringing Wyatt along. Entertains his friend's theories and ultimately puts himself into harms way in an attempt to shock Wyatt back into reality. Margaret Drake is also very effective as Mara. She's the toughest and most together of the three main characters and is willing to give both Christian and Wyatt the benefit of the doubt despite strange behaviour from both.

They Look Like People is an intense study of the intricacies of the mind on a minimalist stage. Perry Blackshear provides big content for a small price as the critical action of the piece all takes place in Christian apartment. The story is excellent and the results of Blackshear's vision is a film I can definitely recommend.

*** 1/2 Out of 4.

They Look Like People | Perry Blackshear | U.S.A.  | 2015 | 80 Minutes.

Tags: Mental Illness, Schizophrenia, Monsters, Evil, Preppers, Friendship, Self Help, Psychiatry, Nail Gun, Axe. Sulphuric Acid.

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