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- Rated: R
- Starring: Olivia Bonamy, Michaël Cohen, Maria Roman, Camelia Maxim
- Written By: David Moreau and Xavier Palud
- Directed By: David Moreau and Xavier Palud
- Genre: Who Goes There?
- Run Time: 77 Minutes
31 Days of Horror Movies: Them
By Robert T. Trate
October 15, 2013
© Dark Skys Film
Halloween is a special time. It is the one time of year when everyone gives of themselves. What they give can be anything from candy to a scare. We thought this October, we here at Mania would give you 31 Horror Films for the 31 days of October. Now, many of you will know these films. Some of you, may not. Get ready for 31 days of Horror Films that will run gauntlet from scary to campy, from horrific to down right ridiculous. Happy Halloween from Mania!
It seems as European film makers have either discovered or remembered how to tell a truly terrifying tale. This is because they are not interested in movies that build on franchises. Perhaps they feel as if their “monsters” can stand on their own with out a gimmick to sell their characters. Them or known as Ils is a film of this nature. It escapes gimmicks and marketable characters and goes right for the throat, delivering what horror fans love, a terrifying story.
Sanda (Maria Roman) and her mother (Camelia Maxim) are driving along a stretch of road on the way home. Mother and daughter are having your typical discussion where mom is talking and the daughter isn’t listening. Suddenly the mother slams on the breaks to avoid hitting someone standing on the road. Crashing the car into a light post, the mother proceeds to get out and see if she can get the engine to turn on. What follows next sets a precedent for the entire movie. Building all the terror on sounds, suspense and quick cuts, Sanda and her mother face off against faceless opponents. If a comparison is to be made, Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn is very similar for when Ash (Bruce Campbell) is alone in the cabin. Sound effects turn the character in one direction as the camera leads the audience away building upon the suspense as we look for what is going on. The scene, of course, builds to an ominous conclusion.
The next day Clémentine (Olivia Bonamy) drives by Sanda and her mother’s car as police and fire crews are removing it from the road. When she arrives at her old country home we see her greeted by Lucas (Michaël Cohen). The two of them are very much in love. That night Clémentine hears strange noises outside and she and Lucas go down stairs to investigate.
Clémentine sees that her car has been moved from where she originally parked it and Lucas walks out of the house to check the car. Its lights and engine come on and it tries to hit Lucas. After it drives off Lucas and Clémentine call the police. Now, in most American horror movies we would have another day of getting to know Clémentine and Lucas. Friends, more potential victims, would come over for dinner and of course there would have to be a sex scene where we would see Olivia Bonamy wet and naked. Fortunately (or unfortunately, fro some) none of this happens. As soon as they get off the phone with the police the lights go out and the movie kicks into high gear.
Knowing the terrain should give them the advantage, right? It doesn’t. The faceless opponents not only turn off the power but then close all of their shutters, immersing them in utter darkness. Lucas and Clémentine lock themselves in the bedroom and are tortured with strange sounds and the power flickering on and off.
A movie that would keep them in the bedroom as they wait for daylight would be pretty dull. So, when it seems as if the torture has stopped, Lucas journeys downstairs where he is attacked. From this point on all hell breaks loose. Lucas and Clémentine’s separation happens more than once in the film as they take advantage of certain situations. They often lose that advantage as quickly as they gain it, making this an even match between them and their faceless opponents.
The faceless opponents’ look and style is reminiscent of Blake and his clipper crew for John Carpenter’s The Fog. Faceless with hoods pulled over, they always stand off in the distance. Glimpses reveal enough and a clear shot of them never occurs until till the end. Keeping them from plain sight only builds on the suspense of the film.
Who, what and why will run through your head as you watch Them. The answers to these questions are revealed so you are not left wanting or needing answers. The story simply is what it is and leaves no reason for a sequel. Both of these points, like the entire film, illustrate again how refreshing European horror is.