The movie title was enough to draw me in, “Shadow People.” These entities have fascinated me for decades.

Shadow People came into my life when I was about eight years old, a long time before I’d heard a term for them. These blacker than night, human-shaped shadows walked through my room, and by my bed where I lay cowering, then they disappeared into the hallway. These entities never seemed to notice I was there on the verge of wetting my sheets, which was fine by me.

So when the DVD cover of this 2013 movie boasted, “Shadow People: Based on a true phenomenon,” I knew they weren’t joking; these things are real.

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The movie "Shadow People" (2013).

The movie, written and directed by Matthew Arnold, is a solid story with tense moments, and a chilling soundtrack. It begins in Cambodia with a child lurking at the periphery of a group of old men who are telling stories around a fire, stories about a black shadow that has killed people in the next village. A young woman catches the child listening and tells him to go to sleep. Yeah, right, lady.

Although the rest of the movie takes place in the United States, I was glad to see another country included, because these encounters are worldwide, and strangely similar.

I’ve written extensively about Shadow People. My 2009 book “Darkness Walks: The Shadow People among us” (Anomalist Books), is an in-depth look at the subject. My exploration of the phenomenon continues at the esoteric website Mysterious Universe (, and my blog ( Most Shadow People encounters are terrifying, but not dangerous. I’ve never uncovered an incident where a Shadow Person has been blamed for a death, but incidents in my book from California, Australia, England, and Canada have shown these entities can be quite violent.

The movie blends Shadow People encounters with Sudden Unexplained Nocturnal Death Syndrome (SUNDS). According to, this syndrome is real, and “affects previously healthy, young adult Southeast Asian males, who die suddenly during sleep.” Victims choke, groan, scream, and seem to be in extreme terror, much like the Old Hag Syndrome associated with some Shadow People encounters, although “Old Hag” victims usually live to tell of the horror.

The movie centers on radio talk show host Charlie Crowe who is tipped off to a Shadow Person conspiracy by a listener who later dies in the hospital of SUNDS. Arnold does a nice job mixing his narrative with documentary-style interviews (of actors. The story line is completely fictional, but it seems real).

Did I say “completely fictional?”

A scene in which Crowe sat on his couch at night looking at a blank television seemed familiar. As he relaxed in his living room, the pale light of a lamp casting soft, shadowy light around the room, he noticed something move in the reflection on the television screen. Something black, in the shape of a man, and it moved when Crowe moved.

Here’s an excerpt from my book, “Darkness Walks,” about a Shadow Person encounter Adam Patterson had in his flat in Leighton Buzzard, U.K., 2007.

“Saturday night I stayed in to watch TV and during the entire night I was experiencing a very strong feeling of being watched,” he said. “The shadows on the wall were looking more and more like human heads, and they were … reacting to my movements.”

Adam turned off the television and he saw a reflection on the television screen.

“Two slightly distorted human silhouettes were sitting on either side of me,” he said. “I also noticed my own silhouette was very unlike me...”

He started playing games with the reflections, watching them move as he motioned toward them. Then he noticed something even more unnerving – one of the shadows was nudging him closer to the other.

“For the entire evening, one of them was attempting to lure me into the other one,” he said. “I think it wanted to consume me somehow. I know this all sounds crazy, but ... I was in direct contact with two very real Shadow People. … It's absolutely horrible for me.”

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Hey, I'm in a movie. But still no IMDB credit.

During the credits of “Shadow People,” I discovered why this scene seemed so familiar. My book, “Darkness Walks,” was the first book listed in the credits as research material. Thanks for the plug, guys.

“Shadow People” is PG-13, and 89 minutes. It stars Dallas Roberts (Milton from “The Walking Dead”) as Charlie Crowe, Alison Eastwood (Clint's daughter) as CDC investigator Sophie Lacombe, and the attractive young actress Mariah Bonner who plays Maggie, a college library assistant who bares her bum in a shower scene.

That’s all you need to know.

Jason Offutt

Jason Offutt is paranormal investigator, an author of several paranormal books such as “What Lurks Beyond,” “Darkness Walks: Shadow People Among us,” “Haunted Missouri,” and “Paranormal Missouri” and a teacher of journalism at Northwest Missouri State University.

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