What I'm Watching: Shadow People
There is a phenomenon that is prevalent in many cultures, where people will see shadowy figures standing over them as they sleep. There's never been a concrete explanation for these creatures, outside of remnants of the dream state.
I am one of the people that have experienced seeing these creatures. It's long haunted me, and stayed with me, so when I heard of a movie about these creatures, I was a mixture of intrigued and terrified. Because of my personal connection, I am drawn to the ideas, but at the same time, due to my personal experience, it makes my skin crawl and makes me crap myself.
Naturally, I watch the movie, because it's just a movie, and I like confronting my fears.
Now, with all that out of the way...how was the movie??
Ehh. It was okay?
The trailer probably had most of the creepy bits, so I was nicely prepared when I finally saw the film.
Much like the Milla Jovovich movie, The Fourth Kind, this film tries to bolster its fiction with the idea that they are going to be dramatising real events, and show you interviews with the 'real' people involved.
They did a fair enough job, but the fakery becomes pretty clear, pretty quickly, and just feels like a waste as we see some things in two different ways, with different actors playing the same part; the one in the movie, and the one in the supposedly real footage that is in theory, the real person.
Once you glom onto the fact that it's all just a movie, you start to wonder why they're doing this, when they could just tell a story, or go the route of making it ALL seem real. Going halfsies and try to do both makes it fail on both. The only time such a thing works is if the real footage IS ACTUALLY REAL.
So, ignoring that stuff, the movie is about a radio personality in the vein of Art Bell, but without the fame or listener numbers. One night he gets a call from someone being tormented by the shadow people, explaining how just learning about them makes you susceptible to them, and now Charlie Crowe is at risk.
When the caller is found dead, the mystery deepens, sending Crowe on a quest to get to the bottom of things.
The story is pretty solid, and the acting is top notch. Dallas Roberts, who did a great performance as Milton Mamet on Walking Dead this past year plays the lead. Charlie is a bit of a bastard, obsessed with work, a bit of a neglectful father who wants to try and care, but... And the tale they're telling unfolds well enough. But the extra footage of interviews is ultimately unnecessary, outside of the footage that actually kicks things off.
I *love* the idea of memetic monsters. The idea that just knowing about a monster, once its in your head, you're doomed... That is terrifying to me. The old gag about telling someone to NOT thinking about pink elephants, and then that's all they can think about. That's real danger there, and how do you fight your own thoughts?
This, THIS is the movie that The Apparition tried to be, with their whole promise of monsters coming to get you once you think of them. In fact, the plot of Shadow People and Apparition are very similar, and this one is very much the better movie, even with the storytelling flaws. The idea is much more fleshed out here, and the movie is much more satisfying, with a true conclusion, as far as it goes.
I also really like that the movie duels with the ideas of whether or not this is something mystical, or something scientific, and the answer ends up being very satisfying for BOTH options, leaving you to make up your own mind.
If not for the silliness of trying to sell the movie as half real, this would be a decent flick, but it has that big stumbling block that turned me off. Other people might be of a different mind though, and the actual movie is worth seeing. If you liked the Fourth Kind, then this is a must see, and if you want a movie that's not your normal fare with good acting, go for it. There are worse ways to spend your Saturday night.