Shadow people are just what they sound like - a dark outline of a person seen walking across a wall, a door, or even through trees. The one individually recognized around the world is the Hat-man, so named because he always seems to be wearing a bowler. Perhaps the reason it spooks us so bad is because we know a lot of people who have seen them.
Shadow people, according to Wikipedia, are:
“…supernatural shadow-like creatures of both modern folklore and traditional native American beliefs. According to folklore, they appear as dark forms in the peripheries of people’s vision and disintegrate, or move between walls, when noticed."
“Reports of shadow people occupy a similar position in the popular consciousness to ghost sightings, but differ in that shadow people are not reported as having human features, wearing modern/period clothing, or attempting to communicate. Witnesses also do not report the same feelings of being in the presence of something that ‘was once human’. Some individuals have described being menaced, chased, or in some rare instances, attacked by shadow people. There have also been reports of shadow people appearing in front of witnesses, of which they stay there or lingering for several seconds before disappearing. Witnesses report that encounters are typically accompanied by a feeling of dread.”
"Accounts of shadow people typically describe them as being black humanoid silhouettes with no discernible mouths, noses, or facial expressions, though accounts also exist of them being child-sized humanoids or shapeless masses that sometimes change to a more human like form. The eyes are usually not described as being discernible but in some reports glowing eyes are mentioned. Their specific form is described variously as two-dimensional shadow to a vaporous or distorted three-dimensional body (as though made out of smoke or steam). Movement is often described as being very quick and disjointed. Some witnesses describe this movement as though the shadow entities they have seen "danced" from one wall to the next, or as moving around the room "as if they were on a specific track".
Rarely, they are seen "standing" in the middle of doorways or off the wall. Often they are described as being seen staring at the floor. Some accounts describe what appears to be the outline of a cloak, and in some instances the outline of a 1930s style fedora hat. This last type is referred as the "hat-man".
What are shadow people and where do they come from? Several theories have been offered.
The explanation we get from skeptics and mainstream science - and who are usually people who have never experienced the shadow people phenomenon - is that it is nothing more than the active human imagination. It's our minds playing tricks on us... our eyes seeing things in a fraction of a second that aren't really there - illusions... real shadows caused by passing auto headlights, or some similar explanation. And without a doubt, these explanations probably can account for some if not many experiences. The human eye and mind are easily fooled. But can they account for all cases?
To call these entities ghosts demands first a definition of what we mean by ghosts. By almost any definition, shadow people are somewhat different than ghost phenomena. Whereas ghost apparitions are almost always a misty white, vaporish or have a decidedly human form and appearance (very often with discernable "clothing"), shadow beings are much darker and more shadow-like. In general, although the shadow people often do have a human outline or shape, because they are dark, the details of their appearance is lacking. This is in contrast to many ghost sightings in which the witness can describe the ghost's facial features, style of clothing and other details. The one detail most often noted in some shadow being sightings are their glowing red eyes.
Demons or Other Spirit Entities
The dark countenance and malevolent feelings that are often reported in association with these creatures has led some researchers to speculate that they may be demonic in nature. If they are demons, we have to wonder what their purpose or intent is in letting themselves be seen in this manner. Is it merely to frighten?
There is no way to prove or disprove any theories about a phenomenon that is so mysterious, that happens so quickly and without warning. Science finds it virtually impossible to catalog or study such phenomena in any methodical way. All we can do, at present, is to document personal experiences and try to piece together what the shadow people phenomenon might be.