The first decade of the ‘00s produced many tight and lean 1970s inspired
horror fests, but none leaner than this no-frills 2005 suspensor from
As with the seventies movies that inspired it (namely
THE LAST HOUSE ON THE
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE), THEM (ILS)
opens with the words “Based on a True Story.” That claim isn’t entirely
false, as the movie was inspired by an actual incident of Romanian
teenagers who senselessly murdered a couple, but the events of the film
are largely the invention of its writer/directors David Moreau and
Xavier Palud (who’ve since helmed the Hollyweird bummer THE EYE).
THEM closely resembles recent stripped-down roughies
like WOLF CREEK
and THE STRANGERS. Like those films, this one contains little in the way
of originality but excels in skill and energy.
Late one night a young woman and her mother are
brutally slaughtered by unseen killers.
Living in a secluded forest nearby are the pretty young
schoolteacher Clementine and her hubbie Lucas. In bed the following
night Clementine is awakened by a noise outside. She and Lucas venture
downstairs to investigate…and the fun begins!
Somebody steals Lucas’ car and nearly runs him down
with it. Next the power to Lucas and Clementine’s house is cut, and a
band of hooded assholes outside pound on the walls, poke a stiletto
through the front door peephole and eventually break into the house.
Clementine and Lucas dash into the woods, where Lucas decides he can’t
go on. The two split up, with Lucas tracking down his car, abandoned in
the woods, and beating to death one of his tormentors--who turns out to
be a young child. There follows a desperate dash through a local sewer,
which leads Lucas directly to…
There’s nothing here you haven’t seen before, but
directors David Moreau and Xavier Palud have provided a tightly focused
and unerringly suspenseful film. From the opening moments the filmmaking
is sparse and concise to a fault, meaning no in-depth character
development or subplots. Such an approach may seem easy, but in reality
it takes a considerable amount of skill to pull off a film as
concentrated as this one.
The tension of the early scenes is developed with real
ingenuity, building to a fever pitch around the thirty minute mark. What
follows is a chillingly sustained chase through a succession of
claustrophobic settings marked by grit and unflinching brutality. The
roving digital camerawork is extremely mobile yet still tightly
controlled, and the editing smooth and streamlined with nary a wasted
frame. The film is only 77 minutes long, which is appropriate.
But THEM pays a heavy price for its single-mindedness.
Exciting though it is, it’s also relentlessly one-note and ultimately
forgettable. As superbly made, edge-of-the-seat horror THEM more than
satisfies, but viewers desiring something--and I do mean anything--else
will go home hungry.
Eskwad Studiocanal--Castel Film
Directors: David Moreau, Xavier Palud
Producer: Richard Grandpierre
Screenplay: David Moreau, Xavier Palud
Cinematography: Axel Cosnefroy
Editing: Nicolas Sarkissian
Cast: Olivia Bonamy, Michael Cohen, Adriana Moca, Maria Roman, Camelia
Maxim, Alexandru Boghiu, Emanuel Stefanuc, Horia Ioan, Stefan Cornic,