FOSSIL FILMS is a spoiler-heavy column devoted to unearthing the films that have either been lost to time, forgotten by the masses or just plain ignored. Some of these flicks will be good, some will be classics and some will be pretty bad. The standing question will be, is this movie worth being discovered (or rediscovered) or should it remain a fossil film?
PLOT: A couple is menaced by an unseen force on a dark and stormy night. Ooooh, spooky.
AVAILABILITY: Amazon has it, as does Netflix and Netflix streaming.
THE RUNDOWN: As far as hard-to-get movies go, THEM (or ILS) isn’t all that hard-to-get. As a matter of fact, it’s readily available from most retailers. So, the question is, why include it here? Isn’t this supposed to be a column devoted to the hard-to-find and the very obscure? Here’s the catch with THEM and the reason it is here: Have YOU heard of it?
That’s right, have you heard of this flick? Chances are, you haven’t and if you have, well, I don’t give you enough credit as a movie nerd. Kudos to you. As for the rest of you, I highly doubt you’ve heard of this little flick and that’s a shame. THEM is basically the proto-STRANGERS. As a matter of fact, THE STRANGERS pretty much ripped this flick off wholesale and while it was a good movie, THEM is better. Why better? Well, for one thing, THEM doesn’t fuck around. It’s 70 minutes of pure horror, uncut and unfiltered, driven straight into your brain. There’s little in the way of plot here (couple gets menaced) and even less in the way of characterization (Are they married? Are they engaged? Maybe just boyfriend and girlfriend?), but what THEM has is oodles of style and good old-fashioned scares.
As far as history goes, I’m not sure what exactly happened with THEM. I seem to remember it being lined up for a theatrical release here in the states, complete with an English dub track and whatnot, but it never happened. Or, if it did happen, I don’t recall hearing about it. Actually, up until I saw this on Netflix Instant, I’d almost completely forgotten about this movie. Turns out, so did everyone else. A quick glance at IMDB shows that this flick opened in only three (!) theaters and grossed a paltry four grand before slowly (it was released in theaters April 2007 and made it to DVD in March of 2008) being shuffled off to the digital wasteland. Such a shame.
Was THEM worth banishing to a lifetime of obscurity? Let’s find out.
COMMENTARY (time-coded to sync with the movie):
00:01:00 - One minute in and I realize that this isn‘t the dubbed version, but the subtitled one. Not really an issue, but the subs are so damn big that they are slightly distracting. Is it just me or does the daughter look like a red-headed French version of Amanda Bynes? Speaking of which, whatever happened to Amanda Bynes?
00:07:05 - The police station put her on hold? Damn, that’s rough.
00:07:10 - AlannaLynn is informing me that she’s speaking Romanian and not French as I had previously assumed.
00:08:11 - P‘wnd. I believe it was Columbus who once said “Always check the back seat”.
00:11:42 - The opening credits are now rolling? Considering this flick is only an hour and fifteen minutes long, this seems like a strange editorial decision.
00:14:44 - Romania must pay their teachers a helluva lot more than we do in America, because that is one gigantic house. Seriously, this chick is a middle school teacher. How is she affording that house on a middle school teacher salary?
00:14:45 - AlannaLynn is informing me that they are now speaking French. WTH? First Romanian (or whatever the native language of Romania is) and now French. What next? German?
00:16:23 - Lucas (AngieBee says this guy looks like a French Bradley Cooper) is rocking the hidden pinball game in Microsoft Word. I used to remember how to access that game.
00:20:07 - I’m not sure what the deal is here, but the pseudo-Bynes in the opening scene was packing a cellphone and these two are watching old B&W shows on a TV set from the 70s. Artistic choice or decade confusion?
00:23:42 - I think the calls are coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE!
00:25:51 - Must be cold in that room.
00:31:10 - This is one strange little ghost movie, because whatever is stalking them just stole their car. I can safely say that I wasn’t expecting that from a ghost.
00:37:37 - What kind of alarm clock just spastically goes berserk when the power comes back on?
00:42:54 - Let me get this straight, Lucas wants Clementine to hide in the room and be quiet, but once he’s gone, she opts to start screaming and yelling his name, bringing 100% attention to where she is? Yeah, there’s a word for that: dumbass.
00:43:13 - I’m thinking these two are both idiots, because he just left the only weapon in the house lying on the floor and she’s about to lose an eye.
00:43:52 - Holy shit, just saw a brief glimpse of the ghost! Spooky.
00:43:53 - AngieBee is informing me that the ghost looked more like a hoodie than a spirit. Yeah right, bleeding hoodies. I don’t think so.
00:50:03 - Clem just p’wnd that f’ing ghost who…appeared to be wearing a hoodie? What kind of ghost story is this?
00:51:00 - I’m not sure, but I think this ghost might be a hoodie.
00:51:45 - AngieBee was right, it’s a bleeding hoodie infestation! Where the hell did I get the idea this was ghost story?
00:56:00 - Standard-issue “fall while running from bad guy” moment. For a movie this scary, it sure is going through some serious hoops to use every stereotypical horror moment. BTW, considering pseudo-Bynes had a cell, why don’t these two?
00:58:51 - Did she seriously think the keys where going to be in the ignition? Also, I think I see a bit of a tech error because the wipers on the car are working without the car actually being on. Maybe that’s some foreign car design I don’t know about.
00:59:24 - Didn’t she kill this guy already? Maybe this IS a ghost story!
01:01:53 - Nope, there’s more than one of them and yeah, AngieBee was right, it’s a bunch of fucking hoodies. Incidentally, way to beat the hell out of that guy, Lucas. Beat him like he owes you money!!
01:01:54 - Oops. I meant “beat that KID like he owes you money”. Can’t say I was expecting that.
01:06:00 - These are some seriously f’d up little kids. Somebody needs to sic Supernanny on these little Frenchy punks.
01:06:20 - Lucas offs another kid. I get that these little bastards are evil, but staking the kid through the chest? Yikes. BTW, loving the suspense over gore factor in this flick. Everything is being done very low-key, no over-the-top gore effects or nastiness, just realism and terror. Very effective.
01:08:00 - These two should’ve know that kid wasn’t going to help them. RIP Lucas.
01:09:10 - Despite having just watched this little bastard kill her fiancée, Clementine opts NOT to smash the kid’s head in with a rock. In what world does that make sense? Eye for an eye!!
01:10:54 - Should’ve killed that kid when you had the chance.
01:13:10 - Normally, producers stick the “based on a true story” tag at the beginning of the movie.
IS IT WORTH CHECKING OUT?: In a nutshell, YES. Okay, I’ll fault it for falling into the standard pitfalls that occur in every single horror film (people trip when they should run, hesitate when they should attack, drop their weapon at every conceivable moment), but when the movie is this good, you forgive it for sometimes being a little daft. Don’t let the subtitles scare you, THEM is pure horror goodness and deserves rediscovery.