The People was presented to me as a scary-ish movie, but it’s more of a sci-fi with a big ol’ helping of 70s “free to be me” overtones. The mom from Better Off Dead as Kristy McNichol as a young schoolteacher with some progressive teaching methods takes a job in the middle of BFE. She’s the new teacher for a group of separatists similar to the Amish, and although their kids really want to pretend talk about what animal they’d be if they were animals, they’re not allowed to play pretend. Or to make free form music with kazoos and shit. They’re not even allowed to walk without shuffling their feet, so no sports or dancing. This is not because having fun is a sin; it is because they might accidentally fly if they don’t keep their feet on the ground. Because they’re aliens. They’re aliens and they met with an attempted genocide of sorts (similar to the Salem witch trials, but everyone was killed at once, on Thanksgiving) the last time they let anyone know they were aliens.
In addition to flying, some of them have healing powers of telekinesis and that is the plot point that consumes the main section of the story. For you see, there is a young doctor, thoughtful when he speaks, and he is played by none other than William Shatner. And because he’s Shatner, he figures out that there’s something Not Quite Right about the physiology of “the People.” Some of the elders don’t want them using their mental or healing powers, but can Shatner and Kim Darby convince them to change their laws?
Like I said, The People started out creepy, or possibly menacing, as Darby arrives only to have her Vogue magazine be burned in secret. It’s not that it’s sinful, I guess, but that it encourages desire to leave the community. Also, it might encourage creativity in the reader, which would be symbolically dangerous, but more likely it encourages consumerism. But most of all this is a movie about acceptance for weirdos, which can’t be stressed enough. Even the teacher was rejected by her voiceover boyfriend at the beginning of the film. As she was packing for her new job, he was ridiculing her for thinking that a job teaching isolated kids meant something. And she goes right out and and convinces the aliens not to be afraid to use their magic powers, therefore being useful! Well, ha ha, voiceover boyfriend. Kim Darby’s character has got to be herself too. So, what we’ve got here is some commie nerds who want to fly on wires, and be hippie healers without being punished for it, and read each other’s minds. With Shatner.