We, at Love Horror, have been quite fortunate to receive a few tense offerings from the world of home horror entertainment of late. One of which is French spine-chiller, Them (ils).
It’s curious. Sometimes you can put on a movie and even as early as the opening credits, you can tell that it’s going to be a good one. This is one of those films.
A mother and daughter drive along a secluded, wooded road in Hungary late at night. They argue, but as things start to get heated, the mother, who is driving sees something run in front of the car. Swerving, she hits a lamp post and car comes to an abrupt halt. The pair are fine, but the car isn’t. When mother gets out to investigate the problem she vanishes.
After a few tense minutes in the car, surrounded by scary noises, the daughter is grabbed from behind.
And the opening credits begin – okay, so now you’re interested (and scared).
Clémentine and Lucas live in a big, chateux-like house together, working as a teacher and a writer respectively. They’re French, but are now living in Hungary, just down the road from where the mother and daughter vanished. It seems like a nice enough place, but there are a lot of trees and at night it gets really dark. Plus the local TV is really bad.
After a hard day at work, the couple unwind and share a romantic moment or two. Soon enough it’s bed time and Clémentine decides to get some school work done while Lucas sleeps.
A crank call in the early hours spooks her, and after getting some sleep, she is awoken by music coming from her car.
There’s someone in the vehicle, and after threatening to run Lucas down, they take off in the vehicle. Heading back into their home, the pair call the police to little avail, and soon the lights go out as the power is cut.
Lucas and Clémentine are then locked in the building as dark figures sadistically toy with them.
And its gripping stuff, for the first half of the film, the tension is so high that most viewers will probably be on the verge of having a cardiac arrest. Clémentine and Lucas are so very vulnerable in this huge, old mansion and as the camera follows them, the audience is really made to feel as though they too are alone in the house.
A number of clever techniques are used to really turn up the fear – the TV that mysteriously turns on by itself is one such device that springs to mind. And it’s not until the film is close to its climax that you even know who exactly this evil tormentor is; human? Ghost? Demon?
It’s classicly French in style: bold, powerful, understated and ultimately done with a unique twist – almost artistic in its originality.
And it’s hard to put a finger on exactly what it is that makes Them so terrifiying; what device it is that really piles on the suspense. But if someone could collect it up and bottle it, it would be worth a fortune. It’s the substance that is lacking, nay non existent, with a majority of the horror that is pumped out in recent times.
There is little to fault the film is superb in the way it looks and even the way it sounds (the unseen aggressor(s) make some perculiar noises).
The performances are top notch and the plot, both in pace and originality is excellent.
It’s without a doubt the most terrifying thing that we have seen for a while, and a must see for anyone who doesn’t have a heart condition.
Not to be watched at home alone!