Shadow People Blu-ray Review
I used to listen to Art Bell’s Coast to Coast AM, an overnight show all about the paranormal, abnormal and the flip side of reality. One show that I remember vividly focused on the existence of “shadow people”, or grey people who appear at night. They have been witnessed by humans in every civilization going back into recorded history. The majority of the reports discussed on this episode were similar; a person awakens in their bedroom, they can see but they cannot move, and standing over them is a person obscured by shadow. This night-time paralysis, these strange creatures standing over someone while they are sleeping… I had almost completely forgotten about them (and many of the other interesting things I heard on that radio show) until I received SHADOW PEOPLE, a new film from Anchor Bay studios.
SHADOW PEOPLE carries many of these same conceits forward while using the “found footage” format so popular recently in the horror/suspense genre. The film opens with the statement “The following motion picture is based on an actual case of mysterious deaths and the viral video known as “Sleep Study GR16 1971”.” The story is well presented to follow this premise, with footage of the ‘real’ people interspersed and sometimes side-by-side with the ‘fictional footage’ created for the story. SHADOW PEOPLE tells the story primarily through the eyes of radio host Charlie Crowe (Dallas Roberts, THE WALKING DEAD). Crowe’s career has been struggling as his show hasn’t been able to find an audience, but one night that all changes.
Crowe receives a call from a young man who claims to be unable to sleep because of the shadow people, who are coming for him. Crowe dismisses the call as just another crazy person calling, but then Jeff leaves a mysterious package on his doorstep. When Jeff dies shortly after, Crowe’s show gets a ratings boost but he also starts investigating these shadow people with disastrous consequences both for him and for the people listening to his show. When a few listeners die in similar fashion the CDC is dispatched to investigate the unexplained deaths. Crowe is caught between wanting to make a name for himself and trying to protect innocent people.
SHADOW PEOPLE takes a really interesting premise that could have been really scary and manages to completely kill it. The biggest problem is even though they tried to be original, SHADOW PEOPLE ends up utilizing almost every horror cliché you’ve ever heard of. This includes WAY too many jump moments, primarily driven by heavy orchestral tracks. If the plot was stronger it might have worked. Instead SHADOW PEOPLE tries to get everyone to jump without actually taking the time to make us care about what’s happening.
Another major issue is SHADOW PEOPLE claims to include real and archival footage as well as fictitious elements. It was more of a distraction than added-value because of the poor execution. There is one bright moment in star Dallas Roberts. His delivery and on-screen presence is leaps and bounds beyond the rest of the talent in the picture and I can’t wait to see him in something else. Regardless, this one isn’t worth your time unless you really enjoy low-budget, sloppy thrillers.
Video: (1080p, 2.40:1 Widescreen) SHADOW PEOPLE is presented clearly but some of the high definition quality is lost because of the choice to put up the ‘fictional’ footage next to the ‘real’ footage (with neither taking up their full real estate on the screen). This results in a smaller image on screen than I prefer. A good idea modestly executed.
Audio: (Dolby TrueHD 5.1) The audio quality on SHADOW PEOPLE is probably the film’s strongest feature, with sounds very nicely played for effect and an engrossing mix that would have worked with a stronger story.
SHADOW PEOPLE: More To The Story (12:34) Featuring some interviews with some actual “experts” on the phenomenon of sleep paralysis and the shadow people, this is the sole special feature on the SHADOW PEOPLE Blu-ray. This seems like a subject that could have resulted in a wealth of content more interesting than the actual film. This is a dud, though, and really isn’t very interesting.