Home invasion horror serves to make viewers paranoid about every little sound they hear from downstairs while they’re snuggled up in bed in the middle of the night. Them is a French/Romanian take on the home invasion horror, which has been a popular sub-genre for a while.
Based on a true story, Them is about Lucas (Michael Cohen) and Clementine (Olivia Bonamy) who live happily in their giant country home in Romania after moving over from France. One night they wake to strange noises and find themselves under attack by hooded assailants who want to play a twisted game of cat and mouse.
Whether it was an intentional device used to make the film more tense or whether it was just a plot hole that was overlooked is debatable, but the group of hooded assailants appear throughout the film to be one step ahead of Lucas and Clem as if they know the layout of the house like the backs of their hands. In the real world, to successfully outwit two people in their own, huge home you would need sufficient practice in learning your way around. The assailants manage to find how to turn off the electricity to the entire house, and given that said assailants are meant to be between ten and fifteen it seems like a major flaw in the plot and their knowledge and capability is questionable.
Them can’t really, truly be called a horror film. It lacks any of the suspense, jump scares or even tense, unsettling music that one would expect from a horror film and is more a slow paced thriller in which not much really happens. We hardly see the assailants, which in a way works nicely to keep that air of suspense and not-knowing but without a decent tense soundtrack or any really scary scenes the film feels lacklustre and actually quite boring. It’s difficult to engage with and care about Lucas and Clem because we spend very little time getting to know them, they’re just a random pair of one dimensional characters. Both of them run around stamping loudly and forgetting that even murderers have ears, and their carelessness gets very frustrating to the point that you will be willing a hideously brutal murder on them just for entertainment. When Clem is running around like a baby elephant in the attic, very cleverly giving away her location to anyone without a major hearing loss, don’t feel alone in wanting to scream “SHUT UP!” at the screen…I actually did scream shut up at the screen.
The assailants are children between ten and fifteen which is very similar to brutal 2008 film Eden Lake except far less unsettling and tense, and a lot less happens. All the assailants want to do is play a game, and although those motives are questionable and feel very far fetched, allegedly that is actually what happened and it could be a very disturbing ending to the film if only the film had been better prior to the final scenes. It becomes a bit frustrating that these two adults who are in their own home and know where everything is don’t go to the kitchen and grab a knife, they just run around hiding like scared children. The assailants are kids, and although they’re very disturbed kids toting weapons the mind boggles as to why it takes Lucas and Clem so long to attempt to fight them off.
So much about the film feels incomplete and badly thought through. It has a lot of gaping plot holes and lacks any kind of tension or suspense. Disappointingly mediocre, Them isn’t worth getting excited about and 2008 US film The Strangers did a much better job of the home invasion style horror thriller.