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They – 5

Director – Robert Harmon

Cast – Laura Regan, Marc Blucas, Ethan Embry, Dagmara Dominczyk, Jon Abrahams, Desiree Zurowski, Mark Hildreth, Jonathan Cherry, Jay Brazeau

Release Year – 2002

Reviewed by John of the Dead

I remember seeing this film when I was 16 years old, thinking it was decent, and always assuming that Wes Craven had something to do with its production. Since then I have grown up just a wee little bit and also learned that Wes Craven had absolutely nothing to do with the film aside from lending them his name as its “presenter”. Also, I learned that They is nowhere near as decent as I remembered it to be and is definitely a film that despite moments of creepiness is one experience that I suggest you pass over.

After witnessing the traumatic suicide of her childhood friend, graduate student Julia Lund slowly comes to the realization that everything that she feared about the dark is not just real, but coming back to get her…

Despite how poor this screenplay is overall I did enjoy the overall story and found it fairly creepy. I loved the idea of the kids being terrorized by heinous creatures of the dark and then being terrorized by them 20 or so years later after thinking what they experienced was children was only the “usual” fear of the dark. Anyone who has ever been afraid of the dark can at least somewhat relate to this story and I really liked that. As far as characters go I felt the story could have definitely been written better, but I was happy to see nearly all of the characters suffer a horrible fate one way or another. The horror written into the film was not bad at all, giving us creature action most of us would normally find creepy so long as it came via good direction. The story does get a bit messy and uninteresting at times, and I believe that to be a direct result of Brandon Hood’s original screenplay completely re-written at the hands of the film’s producers. Any time that you have multiple writers you risk the chance of the story getting messy and unenjoyable, and it is said that up to 10 minds worked on this one revised screenplay.

After viewing this piece I was very surprised to see that it came directed by Robert Harmon, the director of one of the genre’s best films of all time, The Hitcher. His atmosphere is fantastic and the gloomy cinematography blends perfectly with the creepy low-lit sets / locations used. Aside from this there are several grips with his direction, and the first is the horrible performance from lead actress Laura Regan (Dead Silence, Hollow Man II, My Little Eye) as Julia Lund. Poor performances are commonplace in the horror genre, but when the lead is the ONLY truly poor performance then it really ruins the experience. The lead is intended to outshine the rest, but because she severely fails to do so I just found her (and subsequently, her character) annoying. His execution of the horror was decent, with some pretty creepy scenes occurring often thanks to his atmosphere and use of the creatures. I dug the look of the creatures and found them to be quite scary in general, but unfortunately they came to us via some pretty crappy CGI and without any live-action FX whatsoever. To me this really ruined the effectiveness of the creatures and only made for decent scares when we would have experienced supreme scares if live-action FX were used when possible.

Overall, They is not a film I would recommend to anyone due to its poor-looking creatures and muddy story, but it does do a decent job of providing scares if you can look past the CGI and other directing faults.

Rating: 5/10

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