To call this a horror film is a bit disingenuous but at the outset, They Look Like People (2015) sets the viewer up to expect a creature feature. However, to say this indie film does not deliver when viewed as a horror film would also be a misleading statement.
We are presented with the story of Wyatt, a man suffering from unspecified crisis in his life. Seemingly at the end of his rope, Wyatt visits an old friend, Christian, revealing to his friend that his previous marriage engagement has been called off. The relationship completely dissolved. Agreeing to spend the night at Christian’s place, we soon learn that Wyatt has been witness to demons masquerading in the guise of humans, walking freely on earth. More importantly, we learn that he is now wrapped up in a plot to save humanity from evil.
If you go into this film expecting a gory monster vs. humans romp, there’s a good chance you’ll be disappointed. But in place of on-screen effects and action-filled set pieces, we get the far more effective use of unsettling sound design and a story that slowly boils up a sense of bubbling dread that adds weight to each scene as the film progresses.
Without giving the plot away, I will say that this film did a good job of obscuring the truth behind the narrative. We are offered an increasingly unreliable perspective given to us by Wyatt, a character who is portrayed as teetering at the edge of a mental breakdown. Often, the tension in this film is created not by what we can see, but by the murky promise of what terrible entity might be hiding around the corner or, rather, in plain sight.