Them (Ils)

unbenannt1ox9Home 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 overlookedimages (1) 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 Ils (Them).avi_snapshot_00.29.26_[2010.10.27_08.45.48]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 lessthem1 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.

imagesSo 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.

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18 thoughts on “Them (Ils)

    1. I’ve heard that opinion a lot! which is weird, I really would go as far to say this is one of the most boring ‘horror’ films I’ve ever seen! lol

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    1. the strangers is quite cheesy, but it’s pretty entertaining and is a better film for scares than this one.
      the only chills I felt watching Them was spilling cold G&T on myself 😉 haha it was ok, but I had such high expectations and was very disappointed!

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  1. I seem to remember quite liking this one, although, the marketing let it down badly. I also seem to remember that this was the couples first time in the house, the kids had been using it as their own personal club, before they moved there. Again, if I remember correctly. I also thought the “lack” of a suspenseful soundtrack gave the film a bit of a documentary feel. Still, great review and valid points, and I do have to agree that The Strangers, for all it’s (correctly spotted) cheesiness, was far more disturbing. The “child based” true crime plot of Them, made me think of too many “mini” criminals that I dealt with in HMPS! 🙂

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    1. There was no mention of the kids using the house as a club I don’t think, unless I missed that bit! And if that was the case then their set decorator needs a kick up the ass because if they’d just moved in why and how the hell were there neatly hanging photo frames all over the walls?! So either way, the holes in the plot and the little touches are huuuuuge!
      I didn’t like the lack of soundtrack, I got so bored! apart from reading the DVD box and briefly looking the film up on imdb I had no idea about it so I was pretty open to anything, although my expectations were high regardless, but it just bored me senseless! I got more entertainment from shouting at the idiot protagonists for being totally stupid and useless than I did the film itself xD haha

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      1. That the two adults were hopelessly stupid is a given, I remember being just as irritated at them and when the film ended, felt that they deserved their fate…I hope that isn’t too spoiler-y. LOL But, yeah, I definitely felt the same about the protagonists!

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      2. Nah it’s no more spoiler-y than my review haha
        They deserved all they got, I was willing a horrible murder on them for ages…it didn’t help that they were badly characterised either, if I’d cared about them as people it might have been different

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  2. I got this once from Netflix and the disc was so scratched it wouldn’t play. I’ve never revisited it – sounds like I made the right choice.

    Eden Lake is a fantastic movie : )

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    1. yeah definitely the right choice! It’s not worth bothering about
      I wasn’t keen on Eden Lake, not that it’s a bad film I just found it hard to watch

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  3. Eden Lake was a phenomenal horror film, really underrated. I wound up watching Ils when I was dissecting the extreme French horror movement, films like Martyrs and Inside and compared to those two, Ils has nothing. I wasn’t a big fan. It was alright I guess. Great write-up!

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    1. Yeah I can see why Eden Lake is so well regarded, but I just found it too hard to watch…really not my cup of tea!
      I really want to watch Martyrs, that’s on my list of films to watch! 🙂
      Yeah, alright is pretty much it with Ils, which is a shame…I was hoping it’d be good
      Thanks 😀

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      1. If you found Eden Lake hard to watch, I don’t think you’ll make it through Martyrs, no offence :). Martyrs is the best horror film I’ve ever seen, really gory, violent, and disturbing. Not to mention intelligent and thought-provoking, I highly recommend it if you can make it through it.

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      2. I don’t mind gory and disturbing, I just didn’t like Eden Lake’s theme lol I’ve seen so much gory nastiness, it doesn’t phase me!
        Eden Lake was just too, I don’t even know how to explain, it wasn’t even that it was too disturbing, it was just the theme of youths being horrible, thoughtless thugs

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