I’ll admit, despite the big move into the digital age, I’ve always been a fan of walking around stores that have new and used DVDs and seeing what catches my interest. Call me old-fashioned, I guess. There’s fewer worries of a physical copy vanishing the way online collections can, and I didn’t have to worry about internet problems to watch one I recently stumbled upon; the French-Romanian film Them. If the film had suddenly frozen, I likely would’ve felt it was part of the scares because this is a clever one.
Based loosely on true events, Them opens with a mother and daughter disappearing from a dark road in Romania before we meet our protagonist Clementine (an exceptional Olivia Bonamy), who’s a school teacher that’s moved to a quiet countryside home with her boyfriend Lucas (Michael Cohen). Of course, even on her way home, she passes the aforementioned mother/daughter car being towed away, and as an audience member, I couldn’t help but grin. Cities have never felt so appealing. Isolation is good for the soul but not for blood pressure as the pair enjoy a romantic evening and then are awakened by intruders.
We’ve seen this before. No doubt, many films of a similar vein have come out since this film released in 2006 (most notably The Strangers), but there’s an undeniable energy and wit to it. The intruders are hardly focused on, more often than not, appearing realistically as dark figures down the hall or obscured by furniture and walls. I feel like this is more akin to real home invasions where the victims don’t always get a clear picture of who’s there. And the film doesn’t stop to show us more than is necessary. We see what they do.
Here’s why it works. I don’t say this to be smug, but I managed to guess who/what the intruders were and they remained frightening nonetheless. The sounds made by them stretch one’s imagination, and the two leads show a good dose of resourcefulness hiding around corners or diving through hatches. Directors David Moreau and Xavier Palud don’t focus on blood, and the drained colors really give the illusion that this is not meant to be a pleasant ride.
Is there any hitch? A good old-fashioned security system wouldn’t be amiss in these situations. I really wanted to know more by the end of the movie, but perhaps that’s just my curiosity and the film’s skill at reeling me in. I just felt like there was a bit more story to tell like many other slashers. Nevertheless, this Dark Sky Films production is definitely worthy of its accolades.
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