THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE
Perry Blackshear says that he took inspiration from Take Shelter (2011) in which Michael Shannon has hallucinations of the end of the world that only he can see, leading those around him to think of him as crazy. Perhaps you could also point out even greater similarity to the Bill Paxton directed Frailty (2001) in which Paxton played a man receiving visions in which he is told to kill demons that look like ordinary people. They Look Like People has similarities to these but it is also uniquely its own film in which Perry Blackshear does some remarkable things.
What particularly blew me away during the initial scenes was Perry Blackshears ability to abruptly jerk us between the internal life/monologue of characters and the world outside of Evan Dumochel listening to his positive thinking tapes on the subway and then the unexpected jolt as he bumps into MacLeod Andrews on the street. Or where you are never entirely sure whether Evan Dumohels attraction to Margaret Drake is all in his head or he is regarded as a serial sexual harasser around the workplace as also seems to be implied. The scene where he goes in to see her, only to be cut loose and then returns to pack up his things and find an anonymous Post-It note Good luck dominating, asshole, on his desk pulls you back out of his daydream with a considerable jolt.
The photography is the raw naturalism we associate with indie films but at the same time the editing scheme is highly calculated. The naturalism of the introductory scenes of the two friends meeting again and Evan Dumochel inviting MacLeod Andrews to stay, of Evan Dumochels maybe date with Margaret Drake jars with the increasingly disturbing elements that enter such as where Andrews goes down to the basement and tapes a knife under the table. Then comes the WTF scene that jolts you wide awake where Andrews gets a phonecall in the middle of the night and goes down into the basement where he is told to await orders to kill people and that he may be asked to kill friends but that Christian is still a good guy so far.
Perry Blackshear leaves you bewildered and puzzled about what is going on all in a good way. Things become decidedly chilling when MacLeod Andrews invites Margaret Drake down into the basement and then starts creepily talking to her about sulphuric acid before producing an axe or later where he passes notes to Evan Dumochel that say the battle is about to start. The bizarreness is how in any other film there would be easily cued responses where everybody flips out at this. The surprise is how matter-of-fact everybody reacts Margaret Drake starts hitting Andrews after he follows her in the street but then turns and feels sorry for hurting him, while Dumochel regards the note as mildly puzzling but doesnt do anything like throw Andrews out on the street. The most riveting scenes are those that come in the last ten minutes where Evan Dumochel allows MacLeod to tie him up in the cellar as the signal for the end of the world comes (something seemingly reinforced by the power going off) and to place a blindfold over his head. This becomes a gruellingly intense scene as you genuinely do not know where everything is going to end up. Thankfully, Perry Blackshear never ends the film with the cheap twist that both Frailty and Take Shelter fall for. I only await what he makes next with great anticipation.