Shadow People (2013)

DVD Cover (Anchor Bay)
Genres: Horror, Supernatural Horror, Supernatural Thriller
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Matthew Arnold Matthew Arnold
Dallas Roberts Dallas Roberts
Alison Eastwood Alison Eastwood
Anne Dudek Anne Dudek
Mariah Bonner Mariah Bonner
Mattie Liptak Mattie Liptak

5.3 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Crispy
Added: November 02, 2016
A few years ago, I reviewed a movie called Shadow Puppets that was ostensibly about a killer shadow. While that's an awesome idea, it was pissed away with the execution. Five years later, another film's decided to take a stab at the concept with Shadow People.

Charlie Crowe is one of those unmotivated wastes, just going through the motions day by day. His apartment looks like a college dorm, his kid and ex-wife think he's a joke, and his late-night radio show is on the verge of getting cancelled. One night he receives a call from a listener claiming to being harassed by "shadow people". Naturally, Charlie blows him off, but the next day a package is left on his front door. Inside is a bundle of documents detailing the shadow people and their connection to a 1971 experiment by a Dr. Ravencroft. Sure enough, he calls back the next night and reveals himself to be a seventeen-year-old kid, and after claiming the shadow people were going to kill him in his sleep, Charlie hears a gunshot ring out. Fortunately, the traumatized kid just put a round into the wall, but when Charlie attempts to visit him at the hospital the next day he learns that he did in fact die in his sleep. Naturally, the tragedy has done wonders for his ratings, but before long there's an epidemic of perfectly healthy people dying in their sleep. Desperate for answers, Charlie begins digging for info into that Ravenclaw experiment.

Shadow People uses something of a unique approach. Intercut with the movie are interviews of the "real life" versions of the characters. This isn't based on any specific true story, so these are just as much actors as in the movie itself, but it did provide something different. At first, I found myself liking the gimmick, but then I realized it was simply a creative way to pad the running time. By showing us bits of the story and then listening to the "actual phone calls" or showing us an interview with the "actual" person, the movie is just repeating itself. It's just a somewhat creative way to stack some minutes without actually needing content to fill it. Hell, some of the interviews are completely pointless. Do we really need to hear from Charlie's favorite bartender that he's a good tipper? Plus, during montages of Charlie's research, we're "treated" to news reports and Youtube videos of explanation of the finer points of former cases and the Shadow People's effect. Besides running up the clock, it's just a shallow attempt to grab that true-story, cinema-verite feeling that The Blair Witch Project had.

In addition to that, the movie's foundation is made mostly of cliches. The entire framework is a protagonist who has some kind of strange phenomenon thrust upon him before diving into obsession. Sound familiar? On top of that, the spread of the monsters, the resolution, and even the twist ending have all been done before. I don't want to completely shit on the movie though. You see, with all of my naysaying, Shadow People is still an effective horror movie. It just needed to be a forty-five-minute short. No, I didn't get the killer shadows that I wanted, but Dallas Roberts takes Charlie Crowe on one hell of a journey from an unmotivated slacker deep into the pits of terror and paranoia. It's his performance that gives this movie any kind of solid ground to stand on.

So, it's bogged down with padding and cliches, but there really is a decent horror movie in here. I'm going to throw it a strong six, weak seven, but your mileage may definitely vary.
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