horror movies

Them (Ils)
Made in: Romania, France
Languages: French, Romanian
Directors: David Moreau, Xavier Palud
Starring: Olivia Bonamy, Michaël Cohen
Year: 2007

Synopsis: Based on actual events, this film is about a young French teacher named Clementine (Olivia Bonamy) and her husband Lucas (Michaël Cohen). While minding their own business one night in their big, scary house, strange things start happening.

First there are prank calls, then the car gets stolen. And soon after that, Clementine starts hearing strange noises. Before long, the couple finds themselves terrorized by a group of mysterious assailants who attacked two stranded motorists the night before.

The Good: This is truly an intense film, and is above-average when it comes to horror movies. Instead of relying on gore (there's isn't a whole lot of blood), directors David Moreau and Xavier Palud take a more minimalist approach and concentrate on scaring the crap out of the audience.

Simple devices such as sound, light, and darkness are very well-employed to create the freaky atmosphere.

Since the film focuses mainly on the couple played by Olivia Bonamy and Michaël Cohen, Them easily takes on an intimate feel and you'll really be rooting for this couple to survive the night.

The Bad: So what's the point of terrorizing this couple? Other than a few words of text that appear on the screen just before the credits roll, the explanation wasn't satisfying at all. I'm sure you'll be able to draw your own conclusions about senseless violence, society, problem with kids these days, blah blah blah.

But in the end, it felt as though the filmmakers were just going for the similar kind of trendy shock value found in pointless torture movies like Hostel or Saw. And that makes the whole ordeal feel pretty empty.

Also, I found one particular action sequence a bit silly. At one point Clementine hides in her attic. And from the way it's shot, her attic seems bigger than a hotel ballroom. And what's with all those sheets of hanging plastic?

Sure, it makes for some scary imagery during a chase, but who actually keeps that much plastic anywhere in their home? She's a teacher and her husband's a writer. Why do they need so much plastic? I don't get it.

Who would like this movie: You'll like Them if you're a big fan of horror movies, foreign films, or independent movies. For aspiring filmmakers, this movie serves up some good scares and is a strong example of how to get a lot out of a small budget.

But story-wise, this movie is good but not extraordinary, and the ending, as I said before, is unsatisfying and abrupt.

(2 and 1/2 out of 4 stars)

Review written by: Joe Yang

Netflix, Inc.

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