I was quite surprised to see the amount of reviews giving this one or two stars when I popped on here - until I spotted that half of them were people whining about their Blu-Ray copy being ropey or the framing being wrong or the fact that it's got subtitles. Imagine that, eh? Having to read and watch stuff at the same time.
In terms of the actual film, I think the greatest trick they have pulled off with Ils is that despite a very short running time it does not feel rushed and it does take its time in getting started and actually introducing us to the characters. It really is an extremely taut piece of filmmaking that does keep you guessing until what I found to be a pretty satisfying climax, although I would well understand some people being annoyed by it. It's a Marmite ending - like the one for The Mist which I know loads of people loved but I hated.
The two leads do their job well enough and Olivia Bonamy is certainly my latest French actress crush, right up their with Emmanuelle Beart and Ludivine Sagnier. I saw one reviewer complaining that her nipples distracted him too much from the plot. Completely understand his point of view, they are very distracting although I found them almost pleasant enough a distraction to give this the full 5 stars. They are that good. As is the film.
Firstly, please be warned that some well-meaning reviewers here have inadvertantly given away far too much of the plot! I would advise against reading them until you've seen the movie.
Secondly, how depressing to see people criticising the film for its use of subtitles! Er...it's not an English language film. Overseas countries make them too and for some reason make them in their own language - how very dare they. If you are wary of subtitled movies, do not allow this to put you off. There is very little dialogue overall and it really should not affect your enjoyment of this movie. It's also unfair for people to give this film one star due to the poor quality of the blu-ray transfer!
Anyway, all you need to know it that this is a cracking little French horror (little as it's only 74 minutes long) made on an absolute shoestring budget that relies not on gore and lazy schlock horror, but on good old-fashioned terror. It's a home invasion movie, made before "The Strangers" with Liv Tyler and is a far better exercise in building tension. Like The Strangers, it claims to be based on a true story...
The excellent intro scene really sets the tone - the director cranks up the tension with big, doom-laden pauses and an excellent score. The feeling of impending horror gets pretty unbearable and this is most definitely not a film to watch late at night if you're home alone.
However, I can't give it five stars due to the action that takes place away from the house. One silly decision after another from the protagonists left me feeling irritated. But it's a means to an end for the final denouement.
Overall, some fine performances, and some genuinely nerve-shredding moments. Enjoy!
WARNING - MINI-SPOILER... The director takes an enormous risk by giving us a big clue as to who "they" are fairly early on in the film. I'd love to know how many people thought the same.
In an era where gore seems to be the dominant style of horror movies and suspense has been replaced by splatter(thank you Eli Roth) it is a relief to find a film that abandons total reliance on the special effects department and instead, very successfully, cranks up the tension to an unbearable degree. It is very rare to find modern French horror movies, notable exceptions being Haute Tension (Switchblade Romance) and Sheitan, however if this is the pedigree of terror films that our Gallic friends can produce then I for one would love to see more. The tension in this movie is similar to that of the aforementioned "Switchblade Romance" only without the dissapointing twist that ultimately lets the viewers off the hook. In fact the ending, especially the "what happened next" caption pre final credits, is so bleak as to destro your faith in human nature all together.
"Inspired by true events" the film tells of a french couple living in Romania who are terrorised in their home by unseen assailants. Very well shot, the tone of the film is set from the opening sequence where a mother and daughter, involved in a car crash, are the first victims of the mysterious "them", and the stunning set pieces, including a nerve shredding sequence in a plastic shrouded attic, are reminiscent of Carpenter, Bava and Argento at their best (indeed one shot is almost lifted wholesale from Argento's "Opera"). A must for all fans of terror movies, though the hard core gore hounds may want to look elsewhere.
Them makes a promising start with a classic horror fodder killing, but the problem is it then crawls along at a very slow pace for 30 minutes or so while it tries to develop the characters but doesn't do a very good job of this. This creates the problem that the gradual build up of suspense that follows seems to take too long as the viewer is already bored. I find when watching a good foreign movie that I quickly forget about the subtitles but I was very aware of them when watching Them. When Them does finally get going the suspense and horror is good and the tension strong and it is worth watching for this. We are told through a title that Them is based on a true story; this surely cries out for a DVD extra feature, but alas, all you get is the movie. This is a bit similar to the British movie Eden Lake, but no where near as scary.
I am a huge fan of horror films and very rarely am I left on the edge of my seat and truly scared by a film however this one is spot on. Moving away from the recent wave of 'slashers' and gorey films that seem to be taking over, this film plays on the viewers anticipation and fears, just like classics such as Hitchcock films. I had no idea of this films existence before I watched it and I think this is what made it so good, I had no idea of what to expect and no idea what the ending had in store. If you read a spoiler before you watch this film then don't bother watching it at all, it's all about the ending.
A Great little film which keeps the suspense up throughtout its brief running time and the end makes it all the more disturbing once you find out who ''them'' are and that its based on real events. Bear in mind, if you're after the usual Hollywood horror flick then you might be dissapointed. This film is ultra low-budget with only 2 main actors on screen for most of the time...and it has subtitles since it was made in Romania. However, the suspense is excellent and you cant help but feel sorry for the couple who get terrorised by ''them''. The only reason why i gave this only 3 stars is because it has virtually zero replay value. I cant really see this as entertainment and once you find out tho ''them'' are, it's unlikely you'll want to watch the film again. I advise to rent before you buy.
p.s. One or more reviews here contain major spoilers which really ruin the film for first time viewers.
I do not like gore and slasher horrors as a rule, I find them genuinely too disturbing. I do like supernatural or monster horrors which I do not have to link with the real world too much. This film falls into the first catergory and it is very disturbing to watch and it also has a punch like a mule at the end. Like many, I found it totally nerve shredding (thought I d have a heart attack in places ) but also totally engaging and absorbing. It is also extraordinarily well shot. For once I am glad I risked watching something I would normally stay away from because if I had made this film, I would be extremely proud of it. It s a difficult task, scaring people for entertainment. Not easy to pull off at all. This film does achieve this and a lot more besides, as it is very thought provoking and challenging in other ways. Not Hollywood horror but definately French class at its best. I would give this 11 out of 10 but I know it will not be everyones cup of tea.