Critic Consensus: Suspenseful and tense from start to finish, the French horror film Them proves that a lack of gore doesn't mean a dearth of scares.
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Critic Reviews for Them
First-time directors David Moreau and Xavier Palud have crafted a highly effective horror film that combines a plausible narrative with accomplished use of sound and image.
Moreau and Palud play on the way our minds fill in the gaps of the unknown and the very primal fear of things going bump in the night.
A nerve-wracking finale, a 30-minute chase through the house's catacombs, followed by a closing image that will chill you to the bone.
Those who like their horror served up neat, no chaser, can safely belly up to Them. It is a pared-down French thriller that trades splatter and gore for tense efficiency.
Audience Reviews for Them
A horror film but not. When the ending hits it makes the terror so much more shocking in my opinion.
The story and the starting of the movie looked and sounded like it was going to be something very scary. But it wasn't. I must say that this was a bit creepy until I found out who was them (and that blew me away....far far away). What irritated me a bit was when that woman was making a whole lot of noise when she was in the attic. That was pretty cheap move don't you think? I think it was a decent movie. The ending was .
From the opening kill sequence, Them sets up a rule that it will maintain straight through its 76 minute running time: the ability for the victims to see their attackers is limited to the sides of the frame. The rule works to set up suspense, but in a practical standpoint, it creates a ridiculous amount of illogical sequences where any real person, including the blind, could see the killers coming from a mile away.
Writer/directors David Moreau and Xavier Palud have decided to stand apart from their extremely gory French horror art house siblings, opting for a more Hitchcockian approach where very little violence happens onscreen and most of the film's suspense comes from the long, stretched out periods of silence before the onslaught. This is perhaps the film's greatest strength, and its first 40 minutes continue the promise of a unique, edge of your seat home invasion thriller. And then as the final act slowly approaches, things go awry.
Clementine (Olivia Bonamy) and Lucas (Michael Cohen) play a young married couple new to Bucharest. They find a secluded home where they can have peace and quiet. Problem: Who in their right mind buys a big house in the middle of nowhere especially when they're new to the country? Maybe they have their reasons, but the film never explains why they decide to do this, and I can't relate to it because anyone I know who's moved to Toronto from another country has bought a place in the heart of the city, or as close to their work as possible. Without any reason, this secluded farm house seems too much like a horror movie cliche.
But forget about that. Home invasion movies almost always involve busted phone lines, power outages and a chase into the woods, and Them is no different. As mentioned before, the killers are rarely seen onscreen, yet they're everywhere and anywhere. But unless you're in a horror movie, I don't know how you can stand alone in the middle of the woods, quietly look around, and not hear someone come up behind you. Leaves and twigs make a lot of noise. The fight or flight paradigm that Clementine and Lucas find themselves in becomes more of a fight against physics and logic. I can't see how killers can know every nook and cranny of a house better than the tenants. I really feel for these characters because the script has found every contrived way to stack the odds against their chance of survival, so Them becomes more of an exercise in plot manipulation than minimalist horror.
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