I love horror movies. I haven’t always gotten the chance to watch a lot of them, since my husband wasn’t much of a fan for a long time. Fortunately, the years with me have corrupted him and we both enjoy a good terror flick these days.
I’ve had several odd movies on my to-be-watched list, and when a friend mentioned this one a couple of weeks ago, I decided to get on the ball and watch it. This is a French horror film from 2006. I rented this movie, and the English version is subtitled.
The movie starts with a bang. A mother and her daughter are arguing while driving on an isolated road at night. The mother swerves to avoid hitting something in the street, and hits a pole. The van is disabled and when the mother gets out to check the engine (I love that a woman checks the engine), she disappears. The scene is high-tension with just the right set-up. The watcher never sees what has happened or what it is that’s terrorizing the mother and daughter. Beautifully done and I was excited for the rest of the movie.
We’re then introduced to Clementine, who lives in a huge, rambling, old house out in the boonies with her boyfriend, Lucas. She goes home from work to a normal evening with Lucas. We get to know just enough about the pair to care, but not so much that the story drags. The movie centers on these two characters almost exclusively, in the same style as Paranormal Activity or The Blair Witch Project, two movies that scared the bejesus out of me the first time I saw them.
Clementine is awoken by sounds from outside, and the couple investigates. From here the tension very quickly ratchets up, very effectively. I found myself on the edge of my sofa several times. The couple must fight their way out of the house, and only glimpses of the perpetrators are ever given. I promised myself to never hang sheets of plastic in my attic.
Unfortunately, about two-thirds of the way through the movie, the monsters are revealed. As soon as I realized what was happening, the movie was over for me. The monsters themselves were not convincing to me, although the setting was good and the suspense was still high. At one point in the movie, at the moment when the monster is shown, I looked at my husband and said, “Willing suspension of disbelief gone.”
This movie would have been more effective if the writers had opted to keep the monsters hidden from start to finish. The basic premise of the monsters wouldn’t have had to change… but I didn’t need to know it. Game over.
Interestingly enough, I think the subtitles also prevented me from being fully immersed in the story. Drawing my attention from the scene to the text seemed to keep me one step removed, but that could be an individual thing.
As an aside, this movie is also supposedly based on a true story, but I can find nothing online to support that assertion. If anyone knows anything about the deaths, please let me know.
This review refers to the 2006 version of Them, produced by Richard Grandpierre.