Them – 2 out of 5
I never heard of this 2006 French-Romanian horror film until my horror nerd girlfriend requested that I put it on the Netflix queue. She watched it when I wasn’t around and I picked it up later and I’m wondering how she didn’t fall asleep during it. I mean, I totally would have fallen asleep but fortunately I was forcing myself to be active and watching it while I was running on the treadmill but, man, this film is boring.
|"Goodnight, sweetheart. Let us begin another mundane night that contains |
absolutely no home invasions or potentially horrific situations."
The story to Them is simple: After a hard day of teaching, Clémentine (Olivia Bonamy) goes home to her ridiculously oversized house (they clearly pay teachers better overseas if she can afford this mansion that never seems to stop growing in the film) and spends a quiet night with her lover Lucas (Michaël Cohen). However, in the middle of the night, they are awoken by some noises and soon discover that their home is under siege by some unseen predators. Terror and horror overtake the duo as they scramble to escape with their lives…but when they learn who their invaders are and why they are attacking; no amount of preparation will soften the blow. By the way, it’s also based on a true story...because of course it is.
|"Honey, hurry up! I need to use the can. You never know when a home invasion|
will happen and you don't want full bowels in those situations."
After watching this, I do what I always do with movies and check out what others thought of the movie and see its rating on Rotten Tomatoes. For the most part, this film received good reviews but I just didn’t see it. Most critics say the film is terrifying and full of non-stop suspense and tension but I just didn’t get that. For me, the film dragged, provided nothing new that I haven’t already seen in the world of horror to the point the film is almost predictable, there’s no shock to the "reveal," and there’s just nothing happening that is really grabbing my interest and keeping my attention. In short, this film was just a snoozer for me.
|Jesus...how fucking big is this house?|
|Nowadays, there's an app for that lighter.|
Part of the issue I had was I just didn’t care for the characters. While the performances from Bonamy and Cohen are in no way bad, I just didn’t know anything about their characters beyond the fact they are lovers and what their occupations are. Besides that, I really felt no emotional connection to them beyond a feeling that they shouldn’t be horribly murdered because they are innocent people. This is actually a pretty common problem I have with home invasion horror films and when I find myself have a barely passing interest in the protagonists of the story, it’s hard for me to really get invested in the story—especially one that is fairly repetitive and something that is overly familiar in the world of horror...this type of film has been insanely popular in the last decade.
|She has this gigantic house but has that for a TV?|
|"You monsters! Get out of my room that only has plastic|
sheets hanging from the ceiling!"
The film also takes a very, very minimalist approach towards music and that has the potential to be a good thing because it allows other elements of the film to provide the terror. However, thanks to a lethargic pace and the repetitive nature of the plot that involves running five feet, hiding, being found again and then running before one stops to listen to the sounds created by the chasers, this lack of music only amplified the boring state I was having with the film. This dynamic became really apparent during a sequence when Clémentine is hiding from the attackers in her car and is desperately trying to find her keys. At one point, she stops and stares out the front of the windshield—now, it’s obvious that someone is there because she’s terrified and the directors decided to stay on that shot of her looking in terror for several beats way too long and then, by the time the film cuts to the man she’s looking at, the suspense is already gone and maybe, just maybe, adding in a striking tone when they cut to the man might have made for a little bit of a scare.
|Having her reaction shot last 9 minutes might have been too long and could have |
benefited from a bit of a trim in the editing room.
The film also tries to have a twist with the nature of who the attackers are but the reveal of who they are and why they are attacking this couple was a bit "meh" to me. While the mystery of who they are and the seemingly motiveless nature of their attack seemed to be the only real bit of interest I had in the story, the complete lack of tension and suspense that bored me ended up making me indifferent to the reveal of the attackers and the half-ass way their motives are explained to the audience (fuck spoilers, they just have some text at the end of the film tell you why they attacked…that just felt lazy) made it impossible for me to really feel any surprise or even have any kind of reaction beyond relief that the film was over.
|"I'll go get help! I love yo--wait, are you flipping me off?"|
|He had a stressful week. Attacking his home invaders proved|
to help. Hastag Silver Linings.
From a technical standpoint, Them doesn’t really do anything wrong. Aside from having some poor lighting in spots and some shaky camera work that didn’t really help the action, the film has a simple (albeit overly familiar) story, the acting is good, the lack of music and antagonists surrounded by mystery had potential, and, despite characters that have no depth to them, they work for what they are needed to work for. The reality is home-invasion horror films don’t speak to me (even though the idea may spook me because I don’t want anyone invading my domicile), so the film already was a hurdle for me to begin with. In the end, even with the potential I saw in it, the movie just didn’t work for me and I found it more tedious, boring, and completely empty on scares.
|"Hi! Oh wait--HELP! I'm in danger!"|