French couple Clementine (Olivia Bonamy) and Lucas (Michael Cohen) are living near Bucharest, Romania. Clementine teaches at a French school and Lucas is a writer trying to work on his latest story but is struggling with writer's block. One a night in the middle of October a mother and daughter are involved in a car accident near where Clementine and Lucas are living. They are safe after the crash, but the mother disappears and the daughter is later strangled in the car. Clementine passes the accident scene on her way back from school the next day. That afternoon she and Lucas enjoy a playful evening of eating, laughing, and love making. Then Clementine hears some strange noises. She wakens Lucas and they investigate only to find Clementine's car being stolen. The lights go out, the phone goes dead, the strange noises return in force, and seemingly alien lights are seen outside of the house and shining through all the windows. The couple find themselves at siege and fighting for their lives as they are invaded and attacked by THEM.
With a running time of less than eighty minutes, THEM is an incredibly short film. However, it's also a highly engaging film. Basically, the movie revolves around two people being stalked and hunted in their own home by beings that aren't revealed until the end. The filmmakers did an excellent job of making Lucas and Clem seem like two very real and likeable people. They are a happy and young couple, deeply in love who seem to enjoy life. What happens to them, is so very frightening because it ties into one of the deepest fears that people have, the fear of one's home being broken into and not being able to do anything about it. The film also works so well because it relies upon some real old-fashioned Hitchcockian suspense: the mood is set more by sounds and things not seen than by anything that is seen; the imagination can create images and a mood more horrific and unsettling than anything than can be captured on the screen.
As horrifying as THEM is for most of the movie, I have to admit that I was disappointed by the reveal of who the "them" turned out to be. I'll try not to give anything away, but the filmmakers seem to have been trying to tie another fear people have as well as touching upon a political and socio-economic issue that is affecting countries around the world. Despite the disappointment, the ending images are almost as horrifying because even though the story is fictional (it claims that it is based upon a "true story" though there is no such evidence), it is something that people believe could and may already be happening.
Recommended for those who enjoy old-fashioned suspense-horror films without any blood and guts and who don't mind reading subtitles.
***1/2 out of **** "Them" is a smart film that hits all the right notes. It works as both an ingenious thriller and a riveting horror film. It plays with our love of fear, tension, and thrills; and delivers all three in one successful blow. There have been critics who hated or just didn't find this film entertaining, although take it from me, this is one of the best horror films you're likely to see (from the past decade). In short, if you want honest thrills, then see "Them". … more
My trusted reviewers were split on this French/Romanian fright flick. They have all presented their arguments and justified their reasons for liking or disliking this film credibly. My friends have been split down the middle when it came to this movie; seems like half of my friends liked it while the other half just didn‘t care for it. I decided to check it out seeing as I like controversy when I find it intriguing. THEM (Ils) is a French/Romanian … more
Running a scant 77 minutes, Them (or Ils in its native French) is a shining example of horror cinema done right. It’s a taut and suspenseful stalker film that takes about fifteen minutes setting things up and then jumps right into the crux of the narrative without ever letting up, giving the audience a chance to catch their breath, or wasting our time with telegraphed jump scares or meaningless filler subplots. In a world where horror cinema seems to be obsessed with how much gore and torture … more
Just for kicks, THEY make noises in the night; they surround, they torment, they threaten, they hurt. "Them" tells the apparently true story of a seemingly banal evil that terrorized locals in a rural area outside of Bucharest, Romania. Rather than gore and exploitation, the filmmakers make inventive use of their camera and lighting and shadows and sound to create a serious atmosphere of dread. It works, and gave me the same chills I had watching The Blair Witch Project for the first time: a sense … more
Lucas and Clementine live peacefully in their isolated country house, but one night they wake up to strange noise... they're not alone... and a group of hooded assailants begin to terrorize them throughout the night.