French film about a couple who wake up in their Bucharest home and find they are not alone.
Starring:David Moreau, Xavier Palud
Director:Olivia Bonamy, Michaël Cohen
"Them" knows something the makers of the "Hostel" and "Saw" movies apparently don't: Subtlety and suggestion are every bit as terrifying as slashing and sawing.
French filmmakers David Moreau and Xavier Palud took a true story that occurred in the Czech Republic -- scanty details of which appear in a postscript -- and moved it to Romania. In the fictional version, Clementine (Olivia Bonamy), a French teacher, and her novelist-husband, Lucas (Michael Cohen), who are living in Bucharest, are spooked by the sounds of entry in their house. From that point on, they -- and we along with them -- spend their time getting away from assailants who remain elusive, almost spectral.
But this horror movie coyness, as it were, is the selling point and the weakness of the movie, a relatively brief experience at 78 minutes. At first, we are pulled into the principal characters' helplessness, as they contend with unknown forces. But after several fragmentary glimpses or hints of the intruders -- a dark shadow here, a suddenly-turned-on television there -- it becomes clear that we may never see them. And "Them" begins to feel like a one-note exercise in audience manipulation rather than a whole movie. Certainly the characters in horror movies -- by the rules of the genre -- are never profoundly developed. But our attachment to Clementine and Lucas is so superficial, we feel as though we're just watching one set of "thems" against another.
-- Desson Thomson (Sept. 7, 2007)
Contains violence and pervasive suspense. In French with subtitles.
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