People of the Dead Poster

People of the Dead (2023) Review

People of the Dead, a new short by Nate Thompson (Cult Affairs, The Cult Leader) and cowritten with Novalyn Thompson, opens with a woman (Raychel Eastes) walking through a rainy night with a skull under her arm. She lets herself into a building, The Michigan Museum of Horror, and begins wandering around. But, as she looks at the exhibits, she begins to get the feeling she may not be alone.

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Running just under five minutes, it’s a step back from the longer format and more complex plotting of last year’s The Dead Record in favour of being a more simple and straightforward exercise in delivering a short, sharp, shock.

Atmosphere is the key ingredient here, with The Michigan Museum of Horror being a great backdrop for something like this and several of its displays being visible as the woman wanders through the darkened building. The use of various coloured lights adds to the overall creepiness of the situation.

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What we don’t get is a lot of information about what we’re watching. Who is the woman, and why is she in the building and carrying a human skull? Does she work there, or is she an intruder? The way the scene is shot, we can’t tell if she picked the lock or used a key. Similarly, we have no idea who, or what, the figures moving in the dark background are. Are they real, or just the product of her imagination?

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The end result feels like a scene excerpted from, or proof of concept for, a longer film that has the answers to those questions. It’s still effective as a self-contained fright, the kind you know is coming but end up jumping anyway. But it’s equally intriguing as a teaser for something bigger, such as a malevolent version of Night at the Museum.

People of the Dead is available as a free watch on YouTube and you can get information on the director’s films, and the museum itself on the director’s website.

YouTube video
Our Score
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