31 Screams in October, Vol. 4, #24: Them (2006)

Posted: October 24, 2018 in Movie Review

24. Them (2006)

Directors: David Moreau & Xavier Palud

Starring: Olivia Bonamy, Michaël Cohen

Starting things off with a retraction, I want to take back something I once said about modern American horror. I had made the accusation that the genre has been in decline as of late. I want to make perfectly clear how wrong I see that I was, a fact that’s been proven a few times just lately. When I had been making this claim, I had also said that the best place to go looking for 21st century horror is France, and I still feel that holds true for the most part. “High Tension,” “Frontier(s),” “Inside” and “Martyrs” all will absolutely knock you on your ass, and that’s what I love most about them. I wish I were able to say that 2006’s “Them” (or “Ils” if you’re going by the original French title) has the same effect, but I’d be lying. It is little more than a one-trick pony.

“Them” does admittedly get off to a great start. In Bucharest, Romania, a bickering mother and daughter crash their car on a lonely road late at night. The mother disappears shortly after getting out to check the engine. The daughter, now all alone, is disturbed by whispering noises. Someone is outside messing with her. Several someones, it turns out. After terrorizing the daughter for a bit, one of her tormentors strangles her from behind. What makes this a particularly interesting setup is that, although enough clues are there to suggest more than one killer, they remain shrouded by the dark of night. Sadly, it’s all downhill from there.

We are next introduced to the most boring couple in all of Romania. Staring at a blank wall for an hour would be more interesting than watching these two. Clémentine (Olivia Bonamy), a teacher, has recently moved from France with her husband Lucas (Michaël Cohen). The night after the events of the film’s first scene, Clémentine and Lucas start to hear the same whispering sounds which preceded the earlier assault. Lucas then notices that their car has been moved and appears to be in the process of being stolen. That’s when the home invasion begins. With Lucas already having sustained a pretty serious leg wound, the two try to hide out in the bathroom, but they realize this won’t keep them safe for long. Clémentine goes looking for an escape route but is followed by one of the assailants, whom she pushes off the balcony.

Heading back inside, Clémentine collects Lucas and they both hightail it towards the woods. The couple encounters several impediments along the way, forcing Clémentine to press ahead alone. She finds the car, although her assailants find her, too. Lucas kills one of them, resulting in the movie’s big reveal: the assailants are kids, ranging from 10 to 15 years of age. This is the only card this movie has to play, and you may find it disturbing. I, however, did not.

Lucas can hear the screams of his wife coming from the sewers. Following the sound of her voice, Lucas finds her being tortured by one of the teenagers. As he did before at the car, Lucas kills the teenager. Then the couple is stricken by a terminal case of dumbass. After everything these little shits have already put them through, Clémentine and Lucas accept the aid of the youngest of the group of kids, who promises to help them get out of the sewers. This is all bullshit, of course, but Clémentine and Lucas totally fall for it. Shortly after the deception is revealed, each are separately dragged away to be killed.

It’d be fine if the movie had ended after that. I like when horror movies take you to a dark place and have no remorse about leaving you there. But “Them” takes one step too far, plunging headfirst off the cliff with text letting us know that the four surviving murderous children who you see nonchalantly boarding a school bus were sometime later apprehended by the police. Congratulations, movie, you just sacrificed what precious little creep factor you had remaining!

Although I try not to, admittedly in these reviews I often get carried away and dive too far into spoiler territory. This time, I feel just fine about spoiling the hell out of “Them,” because this overhyped little movie did nothing to deserve my discretion. Could my opinion have been skewed by the fact that I already knew the twist going in? I say no, based on the fact that in the past I had key plot points spoiled from what turned out to be more than one of my favorite horror movies. I say no because a strikingly similar American film, 2009’s “The Strangers,” also doesn’t do much for me. Finally, I say no because any movie with uncharismatic leads will get you about as far as a car with a busted engine.

  1. Sylvia Williams says:

    Got it. I’ll probably skip this one, even though it is French!

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