Them (DVD)

Them DVD review (click for larger imageReviewed by Uncle Creepy

Starring Olivia Bonamy, Michael Cohen, Adriana Mocca, Maria Roman

Directed by David Moreau and Xavier Palud

Distributed by Dark Sky Films

We’ve all been there. It’s the middle of the night. You’re dead asleep when something wakes you. A sound you don’t recognize. Your eyes start darting back and forth, but you’re unable to focus. Unable to see. Do you investigate on your own? Do you wake up your bedmate? The only thing you know is darkness, and the only thought in your head is what’s waiting for you in it. We’re met with just such a scenario in this French import, Them a.k.a. Ils, and before we get into the things that go bump in the night, let’s have a brief plot recap, shall we?

We meet Clémentine (Bonamy) just as she’s dismissing her class. Teaching can be pretty hard; I know I couldn’t put up with dealing with kids all day, and she’s all set to unwind and spend the night at her boyfriend Lucas’ (Cohen) house. Things couldn’t be better for our couple. Together they lay waste to the day’s strains by cuddling up for a good night’s sleep. But then it starts. The noises. After some brief investigation mixed with just a dash of panic, it becomes apparent that they are not alone. Strange hooded figures are seen in and around the house. Who are they, or better yet … what are they?

Them is a solid little flick with one of the most intense first and second acts that I have seen in quite some time. Directors David Moreau and Xavier Palud suck you into this nightmarish world of fist-clenching suspense with their smooth usage of the camera and intense sound design. Lucas’ home, though impossibly big, becomes the third main character of the film as its narrow halls and stairways feel as if they’re closing in around both our characters and ourselves. I was with this movie one hundred and ten percent until … the third act.

Them DVD review (click for larger imageIn some ways this movie reminds me of another French flick named Haute Tension (or High Tension as it was called here in the States). Everything was fantastic until the last few minutes rolled around. Hell, the third act of that movie made people loathe the damned thing as a whole. Thankfully, there’s no silly and senseless twist ending for us to suffer through here, but the movie does seem to lose a good portion of its steam once we start drawing toward its conclusion. In the end, I’d say about eighty percent of this flick is nothing short of great while the rest is just good. Though Them has some minor problems here and there, they’re all easily forgivable and won’t impede your enjoyment of this foreign fright fest in the slightest bit. Speaking of foreign, it should be noted that there is no English language track included on the DVD so if you can’t hang with subtitles, you may just want to look elsewhere for your fear fix.

Now then! On to the extras …

The bonus materials, while not overly bountiful, are just what the doctor ordered in terms of learning more about the film, the true story its events are loosely based upon, and what it took to bring the project to fruition. Included here are three slices of prime supplemental meat — The Making-of Them, Composer Rene-Marc Bini featurette, and The Torture of Clémentine featurette. By the titles alone you should pretty much know what to expect, and while there’s certainly nothing groundbreaking here, the whole package just seems very complete. Them is a fascinating ride, and taking it with the people who are responsible for it turns out to be a lot of fun.

My advice? Grab your girl, your guy, or a close friend. Dim your lights, crank up the surround, and hold on tight. You will be reeling for at least an hour. After that … What can I say? Sometimes things just get a little murky, but don’t let that dissuade you in any way from seeing Them as it gives us just a few more good reasons to be afraid of the dark.

Special Features

  • The Making-of Them featurette
  • Composer Rene-Marc Bini featurette
  • The Torture of Clémentine featurette
  • Trailers


    3 1/2 out of 5

    Special Features:

    3 1/2 out of 5

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  • Steve Barton

    You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never, ever choose to be.

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    • G.D.

      Really? You didn’t have a problem reconciling the lesbian killer driving the van AND the sports car at the same time? Or the absolute cheese that is the “reveal” of what happened at the gas station? Give that the tiniest bist of thought. Please. And then tell me it stands up. The problem with HT’s twist is that it wasn’t earned. It absolutely, completely falls apart under any kind of scrutiny.

      And there’s no “falling for” an ending that comes out of nowhere and isn’t earned. The one good thing that HT had going for it was style. It was very well made, just poorly thought out. You can reconcile that it’s an unreliable narrator all you want, but you’re not going to convince me.

      As for Them, I found it underwhelming. I don’t know if it was expectations or what, but I wasn’t impressed at all.

    • Daymare

      Such a cliche and I bet you *still* fell for it, Sirand;) Nobody likes to be tricked, especially if they feel that the “trickster” wasn’t playing by the rules, and that’s probably the main reason for all the “hate” HT gets. I didn’t find the “twist ending” in any way problematic, when I watched the movie again. The movie’s just (way)smarter then it looks.

    • Daymare

      Haute Tension was brilliant. It tricked you into believing that it’s “just” a great homage to the 70’s horror (among other things) and then droped a neat post-modern twist, that was in no way illogical, when you realize, at the subsequent viewings, who was actually the “silent narrator” of the movie – the eye of the camera – from the very beginning. The ending is completely integral to the whole movie.

    • Sirand

      Haute Tension was hackery that plagiarised Dean Koontz’s INTENSITY scene-by-scene (and was later sued because of it). All except Aja’s goofy, cliched ending which still ranks as one of the worst twists in cinema history. Watch out for evil lesbians with ginormous buzzsaws.

    • Terminal

      I loved it all.