Reviewed 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.
In 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.
3 1/2 out of 5
3 1/2 out of 5
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