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Them(Ils) – 9

Director – David Moreau, Xavier Palud

Cast – Olivia Bonamy, Michael Cohen, Adriana Mocca, Maria Roman

Release Year – 2006

Reviewed by John of the Dead

I don’t know what it is about the French, but they have put out some amazing horror films this decade.  Maybe it is the lack of studio intervention like we have here in Hollywood, but these French flicks are not only scary/crazy as hell, but are downright creative and expertly executed.  I first heard about this film when the American film The Strangers came out in 2008.  The Strangers, which claimed to be an original film “based on true events”, was often compared to this film and led many horror fans to call it a blatant remake of this French flick.  After finally seeing this film for myself I concur with those who say that The Strangers ripped off this film.  I did enjoy The Strangers, but this flick blows it out of the water.

This flick follows Lucas and Clementine, an adult couple residing in a giant isolated home in the country.  One night they are awoken by strange noises going on around the home, and are soon berated by a group of hooded attackers who plan on terrorizing them throughout the night.  Eventually the terror worsens when the somehow makes their way into the home, forcing the couple to fight for their lives with no way of calling for help.

Right from the beginning this film takes off with extreme tension and beautifully executed atmosphere.  I am downright flabbergasted at how great this film is given this film’s two directors were first-time writers/directors.  The cinematography and camera angle use is what really set up the thrills and chills in this piece, and were a key element in showing us that you can scare that crap out of the audience with NOTHING if you do things just right.  That is what I believe sets this film apart from other films with similar plots, it’s execution.  The pacing is just right and whatever development we get towards the beginning of the film sets up the character conflicts we see later on in the film.  At a very short 77 minutes, this film does a lot in that span and does not fill the screen with useless scenes just to make this not feel like a short film.  I really like how these French guys obviously do not have much studio interference, which almost always recommends films be at least 90 minutes in length.

The story for this film is a simple one, and that leaves it up to the directors to make this unique and enjoyable, and they did just that.  The home used in this film is the perfect set choice for this film because it’s so damn big and comes with so many smaller and hidden rooms, it adds lots of places for our protagonists AND antagonists to hide.  Brilliant huh?  I was also very surprised with the last act of this film because this film only got MORE creative, adding some awesome and dreadful scenes you do not see coming.  Usually when there is a big change towards the end of a film(in this film the protagonists manage to escape from the house) the film usually falls on it’s face because it either did not have the execution or content to support such a change.  Well this film defies that notion and kept up the pacing and tension despite the set change.

I have no complaints for this film, and can only imagine what these guys could have done if they had a real budget.  Now I am also considering the fact that if they did have a real budget then it would have affected this film negatively because it wouldn’t have forced the filmmakers to become so creative, so how knows.  Regardless, this is another big “f*ck you” to Hollywood that shows you can make a great horror film without major stars and a big budget.

Overall, this is an amazing film that I recommend to all horror fans.  This is one of the most tense films I have seen in a very long time and will give you a new appreciation for the horror genre.  YES, there are good horror flicks still being put out these days, unfortunately many of us are looking at all the wrong places(Hollywood) for great horror.

Rating: 9/10

– I ranked this film #16 in my Top 50 Horror Movies of the Decade(11-20) post.

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