Them (2006)

Rating: B

Dir: David Moreau and Xavier Palud
Star: Olivia Bonamy, Michael Cohen
a.k.a. Ils

A very-lean 74 minutes, there’s hardly an unnecessary shot in this film, which tells the story of a French couple, living in Romania, who find their country house under assault from largely-unseen attackers. With phone and car both disabled, they have to decide whether to hide within the house or make a break for freedom. Really, that’s all there is here, plotwise: however, it’s all that’s needed, and once the siege begins, this is a solid and effective piece of horror, with tension that doesn’t let up the rest of the way.

You could also read an interesting political subtext, more than a little xenophobic, with Romania portrayed as a nation of savages, in need of civilizing – specifically, French civilization. In that way, it’s similar in attitude to Eli Roth’s Hostel film: in particular, when eventually revealed, the identity of the attackers was echoed in Hostel 2 [which came out a year later, and lacks most of the artistic merit here]. Bonamy is best-known in TC Towers as the heroine of Bloody Mallory – let’s just say, Mallory would have been very helpful here, dishing out more than she received. Instead, Bonamy’s Clementine is an archetypal ‘final girl,’ simply because she is the only girl. Indeed, outside the couple, there’s hardly anyone else in the entire film, which enhances the feeling of isolation marvellously.

There isn’t a lot of gore; things tend to happen out of eye-shot, though speaking of eyes, there’s one moment of sharp, pointy goodness that will make you think twice about…well, you’ll see. Could have done without the tired ‘based on a true story’ claim, true only to the most limited extent. Otherwise, it’s straightforward stalk ‘n’ slash, with the emphasis heavily on the former, and its simplicity mostly works in the film’s favour. On the strength of this, the directors got sucked in to the Hollywood horror remake machine, and did The Eye. My interest in that just increased, albeit from ‘zero’ to ‘slim’.