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 of something ominous and intelligent and evil, that was somehow real and existed in the same plane as the documentary-style footage, that could be either human or something more. Yes, I was definitely creeped out.
I'd heard about this when it first played at festivals, and meant to see it ever since. I like to keep up on foreign films, both arthouse and genre. Still, I had the bad taste in my mouth after watching this one that comes when I see "true crime" specials about sadistic criminals on television. Yes there is evil out there, and it is for the most part only a step away from "normal." Still, in retrospect I wish I had the couple of hours I spent watching this back to spend on something that I could build on. Or, rather, I wish I'd been able to walk away from this one with something valuable; not a "moral" since there's nothing more tedious than a film that tries to teach a lesson, but some new insight. While the filmmakers tastefully avoid gratuitous violence or nudity, this is still not so far off from the nihilism of the so-called "torture porn" of films like Saw and Hostel, which I've seen enough of (including those two) to decide it really is not my kind of thing. Tied to that is that the main characters in the film are developed only slightly, not enough for me really to gain an appreciation of who they were or what their connection was. Yes they could have been anyone, and that's part of the point, but they weren't just anyone and to watch a story like this with sufficient interest I have to know enough about the characters to care, and I didn't really get that in this case. The female lead, Clementine, is a French teacher in Romania, frustrated by the rudeness of her pupils, and seemed much more active than her lover, Lucas. When things start to happen he takes the lead, but only reluctantly, as if he knows that's what a man's supposed to do and does it. The motives of "them" are meant to be inscrutable, and I understand that, but it leaves things pretty empty and hollow and unresolved. That's not to discount the accomplishment of the filmmakers; they set out to tell a story that would scare the pants off of me and they came pretty close, and are obviously talented. If you're in that kind of mood, and if you like this kind of thing, you're likely to appreciate "Them." It's not for me.
***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
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 … 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.