If you've seen one independent horror film, you probably think you've seen them all. The genre is typically defined by a set of rigid features: wooden acting commensurate with your typical community college theatre production, shaky camerawork and cinematography which barely serves to convey the narrative in only its most rudimentary sense, and a plot with more holes than O.J. Simpson's alibi.
Shadow People, however, is not your typical indie horror flick. Dallas Roberts (The Walking Dead) does an exceptional job of playing Charlie Crowe, a small-town talk radio host who gets caught up in the mystery of the shadow people after a late-night call from a disturbed listener. His exploration into the phenomenon makes the film as much mystery or suspense thriller as pure horror and is spliced together with documentary footage. The resulting mode of storytelling is both effective and novel, making suspension of disbelief (a major problem with most horror films) that much easier and enhancing the overall feel of the film.
The film's camerawork and cinematography in general is reminiscent of a much larger production. Roberts' emotional range is expertly captured, inviting the audience to share in his brushes with the uncanny. Outdoor pans manage to give the audience a strong feel for the insular Kentucky setting in only a few seconds here and there. Lighting in the film's more traditionally "scary" scenes is viscerally creepy without being over the top. The overall effect conjures up several great horror films of the past, with a dash of film noir for good measure. Sound is equally well done, serving to enhance the ambiance.
Again, Shadow People is not your typical indie horror film. It is instead a well-crafted exploration of an all too familiar phenomenon (sleep paralysis, shadowy figures caught in the corner of one's eye in the middle of the night) that manages to be both suspenseful and genuinely creepy, and just might just have you dreading the next time you have to sleep alone. Definitely worth a watch.