(dirs. David Moreau and Xavier Palud )
*First time viewing
While the home-invasion horror film can no longer be considered original, I think they are the most consistently frightening. The destruction of sanctuary, the twisting of familiar spaces into something strange and dangerous is an understandable human fear based on evidence and not superstition or paranoia. Them destroys the sense of safety in every sense, and creates a chilling portrait of isolation. The French-Romanian film follows recently instated teacher, Clem, and her boyfriend Lucas, as they are attacked in their home by a group of hooded visitors who proceed to torment them throughout the night. When the hoods come off, Clem is faced with how dire her struggle to survive really is.
Story-wise Them shares a number of similarities with The Strangers (which was released two years later) including its claim that it was based on a true story. There’s no evidence of its factual basis, but the film creates a convincing scenario. Them is a less cinematic feature than Bertino’s film, but there is a more realistic, albeit less frightening quality to it. While there are no creepy masks, Moreau and Palud make great use of sound, giving the visitors the means to make distinctly inhuman noises that keep their identities vague. The film’s twist ending is genuinely surprising and makes the events that transpired all the more disturbing.
Scare Factor: 3/5 It lacks a certain slickness in terms of visuals, but Them is gripping and it’s brief hour and sixteen minute runtime helps the film maintain tension. The film is relatively bloodless, and scares are a result of the characters’ fear at the possibility of being harmed, rather than harm done. While the story isn’t new, it still proves to be an effectively terrifying scenario.
**Available to watch on Hulu Plus