Shadow People (2013)

What causes healthy, fit people to die in their sleep ? That is the question posed by this supernatural thriller that effectively blends ‘archival footage’ with dramatic recreation.

Charlie Crowe (Dallas Roberts) is a late night radio host desperate for a shot at the big time, but seemingly destined to rot in the graveyard shift of his local radio station, giving airtime to callers obsessed with conspiracy theories and crazy ideas. One such caller is Jeff, who phones Charlie’s show to warn him of ‘shadow people’. Discounting the caller immediately as one of the usual band of cranks, he receives more correspondence from the caller when an envelope is sent to his home the following day marked ‘read and believe’.

That night Charlie hears from Jeff again as he phones the show to utter the chilling words “I’m afraid to go to sleep in case I never wake up”, and he states that he keeps a gun beside him for protection. Seconds later we hear the gun fired, and the phone line fall dead. After a period of anxiety, Charlie finally learns that Jeff has been taken to the local hospital, and the radio station pleads with him to visit Jeff if only as a good PR exercise, but when Charlie reaches the hospital the receptionist informs him that Jeff has died in his sleep.

Charlie begins to fall deeper and deeper into the mystery when he’s joined by Dr. Sophie Lacombe (Alison Eastwood) who, following another mysterious death, has been assigned by the CDC to investigate what they allege to be a form of sleep paralysis. Can this phenomenon be determined so easily, or is there something far more sinister at work?

Dallas Roberts really excels in this film as the radio presenter who from cold-hearted cynic descends into a sleep deprived state of paranoia. Eastwood too is a worthy foil, remaining a staunch cynic even as evidence that moves away from the scientific explanation comes to light.

I found the way the film is interspersed with so-called ‘actual footage’ of the characters portrayed in the film, alongside reconstructions of certain events to work far better than expected to make this a very decent DTV tale of ‘things that go bump in the night’. Gorehounds may be disappointed at not a drop of blood being spilt, but if you like your horror with a slow, patient build-up and soaked in atmosphere and dread this may well be for you. Credit too for reeling the audience in for an ending that will undoubtedly leave viewers darting to Wikipedia

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