Tuesday, October 5, 2010

THEM (2007)

"Inspired by true events" in that people in the real world have often driven cars and used laptops before, this Bucharest-filmed and -set French thriller bears storyline and stylistic similarities to THE STRANGERS, but didn't impress me the way that that other film modestly did. This is a LOUD NOISES horror movie par excellence, with all of the frights arising via SUDDEN LOUDNESS and jumpy scares.

That aside, this is pretty shallow, plot-wise. A couple (a writer and a French teacher) decamp to the Romanian countryside to a house and are promptly terrorized by a pack of people in hoodies. The movie happens, stuff happens, there's a tweeeest, and then it ends. Hooray!

THEM isn't French horror after the fashion of MARTYRS or whatev. Whilst nu-French gore bores the audience into submission with so many flopped organs that one ceases to care, this one draws the yawns by adhering to its carnival-ride structure with strict rigidity. Seriously, the whole movie is basically loud noises and jump scares. We don't know the two terrorized people, we don't know the terrorizers, and we can only tell that something's important because of the BOOOOOOMMMMMs.
The most interesting thing about it to me is the same thing that was interesting about HOSTEL, i.e. that western Euros like the French tend to regard eastern Euros as putrid redneck mutants worthy only of contempt and fear. Not only is Romania the home of outdated television and telephones, it also houses packs of folks who will kill you for no reason whatsoever~! Not at all like the well-adjusted metropolises like Paris, home of limitless resources and mental stability (and exchange students like Issei Sagawa!). In a way, THEM is the European version of those backwood-kill movies like JUST BEFORE DAWN. Sophisticated city-dwellers make the mistake of hitting the holler and get sliced & diced for their trouble. It's deeply rooted in xenophobia and groupthink.

French horror, you have failed me yet AGAIN. #9 of 31.


AE said...

Totally agreed! I kept thinking "Why the hell don't they just go out and ask these people what they want? Why do they immediately run hide in their own house like a pair of surrender monkeys?" Sacrebleu!

CWL said...

I will rescind my negative review if Them II is all about tiny Romanians in hoodies conquering the entire country of France (by making scurrry noises, natch). Part I was just a trial run.