Them is French for really scary
Them (Ils) (15) Directed by David Moreau and Xavier Palud. Starring Olivia Bonamy, Michael Cohen. 78 mins Four star rating There probably isn t a single original idea at loose in this French horror film – other than the touching notion that there is hon
Them (Ils) (15)
Directed by David Moreau and Xavier Palud. Starring Olivia Bonamy, Michael Cohen. 78 mins
Four star rating
There probably isn't a single original idea at loose in this French horror film - other than the touching notion that there is honour and merit in making a straightforward horror film which has the common decency to be very scary.
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Maybe I'm getting soft in my old age, but this is very very unsettling stuff - particularly when you consider there isn't a single instance of gore and very little violence in its admirably brief running time.
After an unbearably tense opening sequence with a mother and daughter driving down a country road at night, the movie settles into its main plot which involves a French couple, Clementine (Bonamy) and Lucas (Cohen), living in Bucharest.
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For the weekend, they head out to an old country house. But that night they find themselves terrorised by an unseen, unknown menace in the woods.
The key to the film is that it puts you right in there with its protagonists.
The shocks are all familiar - but because they seem to build naturally out of the situation they never feel forced. With its reliance on suggestion and the use of disturbing sounds, it's a bit like the Blair Witch Project - but good.
I'm all in favour of horror films letting the viewer's imagination do some of the work.
With Blair Witch you became resentful because it felt like you were doing all the work yourself - a DIY job with just a few sticks and stones the film-makers provided. Here the balance is just right.
In films where they keep the audience guessing,
there's always the nagging frustration that eventually they're going to have to spoil it all by doing the reveal.
With more than an hour gone, I was bracing myself because you just know the solution is going to disappoint.
But Ils has kept its best shock to the end. And when it comes the reveal is sensational - totally consistent, wholly unexpected and very chilling. Don't let anyone even hint to you what it is.