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I didn't think this movie was all that bad...certainly wouldn't call it trash or a classic. It did "borrow" some from "Darkness Falls" but for whatever reason, i found this a bit more creepy....maybe because i find creepy, shapeless, unseen-moving-shadow-type monsters (like those from our childhood fears) more frightening than a screeching witch-like thing flying about as if on a broomstick....i've seen the moving shapeless shadows moving in the dark corners of my room; i've yet to see a flying witchlike thing. The star could have been more voluptuous, but then that's kind of what i liked about this movie...none of the standard gore, sex, and slash. The slightly open doors of the dark closets which hid the monsters of our childhood as they observed us, worked for me; I made sure my closet doors were shut that night. Also the abandoned pool scene was somewhat of a flashback-fright for me. All in all, I thought this was an entertaining movie that was technically well done. Contrary to most, i also liked the ending. "They" definitely works better on viewers who are home alone at night...those dark areas of the house seemed a bit darker; and all the little unexplained creeks and bumps a sleeping house makes seemed more meaningful. I do wish they would have expanded more on the brief theory that darkness may be the channel used to travel from one dimension to another... In truth, there is really a limit to how many different ways a horror movie can scare you; we've seen them all over and over...it is just like a thrill ride, we all know what is going to happen; the challenge in a horror movie is to touch something in us that results in a fear response; i guess therein lies the key as to whether you like or dislike this movie.
Rating: *** out of ****
In this era of modern horror, it's really the little films that come through and surprise me the most, so I'm glad to include They among this recent bunch (which also includes the terrifically frightening Dead End and the surprisingly funny Monster Man). I must admit to having relatively low expectations; the film was promoted with the heading "Wes Craven presents" and the film's director, Robert Harmon, hasn't done anything worth mentioning in years.
But the movie works, and if it's not particularly original or outstanding, it's at least very well made and makes smart decisions (i.e. a more atmospheric, quietly creepy approach) that lesser films would have avoided. In fact, the movie is so low-key I'm surprised it wasn't just given a straight-to-video release, as nothing in this picture screams box office success the way a noisy, thrill ride approach that Darkness Falls employed might.
They stars the very cute Laura Regan (sporting an adorable haircut!) as Julia Lund, a psychology grad student who's contacted by an old friend of hers. They reunite in a coffee shop, with the friend mentioning some half-comprehensible blather about "they," then kills himself right before her eyes. At his funeral, Julia meets a couple of his more recent friends (played by Ethan Embry and Dagmara Dominczyk), and upon a few conversations, discover they all have something in common. They've experienced night terrors as kids and believe something in the dark that once branded them as children is now back to collect.
Even running at a scant ninety minutes, it could be debated They still runs too long. The subplot with Embry and Dominczyk doesn't really go anywhere and only provides the opportunity for two lengthy sequences where we know these two are going to meet a particularly horrifying fate. Had these two scenes been less effective, I might have complained, but these setpieces are directed with the right amount of build-up, tension, and atmosphere, making the pay-off worth it. And at least those two aren't as fundamentally useless as Marc Blucas, who plays Julia's disbelieving boyfriend. It's a cliché role and nothing about him stands out in the slightest (see The Grudge for a very similar role).
As the lead, Laura Regan proves a very competent performer who's sympathetic and likable. The little discoveries she makes are creepy and intriguingly enthralling. There's hints of an alternate "universe" these creatures live in and the brief views we get of this world are among the film's most visually engrossing moments.
The monsters themselves are mostly kept out of plain sight, kept hidden in shadows and darkness so that what little we can see only enhances the scares. The sounds they make also build a nice sense of unease, a trilling noise that gives the creatures an otherwordly feel to them, not unlike the mysterious creatures in Signs.
The film is mostly a collection of effectively frightening setpieces. Most of the concepts the movie introduces are left both satisfyingly and frustratingly unresolved; there's just enough to fascinate, but maybe just a few more answers or theories would have been appreciated. They comes to an abrupt end, but that works in favor of the movie, finishing things off on a startlingly high note.
This is a great horror movie, it had my girlfriend hiding behind the
couch all the way through, and to be fair it had me flinching at the
horrible dark lurking monsters as well! The movie itself lets the viewer
use their own imagination as to what these monsters actually look
like..you'll find yourself squinting trying to make out 'what the hell
A very simple storyline which does its job well. I found myself questioning 'has she gone mad? or is she truly in danger from these monsters?' only to the very end do you find the answer. The story lasts about 1hr and 30mins and fits everything in nicely. I recommend this film to anyone with a good imagination.. Best watched with the Boy/Girlfriend... Seems as though a sequel is on the way!?
This film has it's good and bad sides. There's a lot of potential and
beautiful scenes in this movie. I don't know how they managed to find that
country scene with mists, the moon, a country road and everything just
It also succeeds in scaring the viewer quite a few times with startling attacks and creepy camera work. I would even have liked to see more of this, but true, it might become repetitive, and we know how how we hate repetitive stuff in the world of the short attention span! Also sound is used to scare, like the telephone ringing in the 'Exorcist', at a tense moment.
It also slightly over uses the "monster coming to get the camera" scene, where a scary monster comes at the camera (/viewer). These are good methods of scaring people.
There are some terrible logic errors and they do spoil the film for 'thinking' people. If it was a real scenario her boyfriend, for example, wouldn't let her out of his sight! Much of the plot relies on the people isolating themselves from others for anything to take place. The strange thing is, even though they know they are in danger, they still go off on their own, where no one is there to help them. Whenever there are people present, nothing happens.
This flaw ruined the film a bit for me. I kept thinking "why is she doing THAT", when nothing would happen if she did THIS. Very frustrating... but I guess they were out to make a movie about people being attacked when they were alone, and this is what they ended up with. (The British "Lenny Henry Show" did a great parody of this kind of movie, with the actors always saying: "We've got to split up, it's more likely we get chopped up that way!" and "oh-oh, the music's changed, that must mean - here comes the bad guy!")
Also, without spoiling anything, there are some places where people just seem to willingly ignore the facts. Like when a window is broken -inwards-, into a closed chamber. No one even noticed that, and one is left asking - and then what? Just another missing person from a locked room? How many of these can there be? Where are the paranormal investigators when you need them? Where are the university geeks want to become the "ghost busters"? They investigated stuff like this in "The Entity" and that was supposed to be based on a true story.
Coming back to the positive side, I can imagine the actress playing the main part was chosen because she bears a striking resemblance to a young Mia Farrow in "Rosemary's Baby". Those types are always believable when scared to death. One seems to identify with a skinny (almost anorexic (was that possibly the comment they were making with her vomiting in the railways station?) sweet young thing. Her boyfriend is far too conservative for his own good. Letting her sleep alone in a double bed! What kind of gentleman is that, in this day and age! Just think: If her impotent shrink had been played by Bruce Willis he'd have followed up on her story and we'd have seen some aliens splattered all over the subway! - Now that'd been juicy! Sorry wrong film. That's "Mimic".
"They" is one of these movies that end up being rather annoying the more you see it. From all sides... and I agree there was a LOT of potential in there. Just not quite enough attention to detail.
Still: *** /5
Well-crafted thriller that plays upon night terrors and the old "monster in the closet" legend. An ambitious young psychology student is occasionally frightened by memories of old childhood nightmares. She, along with a group of strangers, eventually come together believing that they were all traumatized as children by mysterious night demons, the very same demons who may be returning to complete some unfinished business. Occasionally spooky thriller holds your interest the way it should, but it never really tops its effective opening sequence, or gets informative enough to be really satisfying. **
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film is one of the worst I have seen in a long, long time. It
out with great potential - a psychology grad student, Julia Lund (played
without much depth by Laura Regan) witnesses a close childhood friend's
suicide, right after he drops hints about their shared night terrors
actually being real. She then begins to see dark, skittering things at
night, and begins to re-experience her own childhood nightmares.
This had all the makings of a great spooky story, and as it was presented by Wes Craven (the man behind the superb "Nightmare on Elm Street" stories), I expected a very good scare.
Simply put, this movie does not deliver. The acting is WOODEN, and not even beautifully frightening set design or a good plot can salvage it. The only real horror was the wasted potential onscreen. So many loose ends were left hanging, that it looked like an afghan sewn by a one-armed man. In addition, the ending SUCKS! I can't even find a gentler way to say that. I was extremely disappointed with the wrap-up of the movie. No spoilers here, but it looks like the filmmakers ran out of budget, and just said, "What the heck, we'll just stop it right here."
Final words of advice - don't waste your time.
When Julia Lund goes to a late night diner to meet friend Billy she
assumes he is on something when he starts babbling about how "they"
come for him in the dark and how he has to work nights to survive.
However she did not expect him to kill himself, claiming that it is his
only way to escape the monsters that he fears in the dark. At the
funeral she meets some friends of Billy who seem to believe his
ramblings and tell her stories that cannot possibly be true. When Julia
herself starts seeing things in the dark, she starts to doubt her own
Opening with a scene that trades nicely on childhood fears of the dark and dark spaces, this film continues with the one idea that there are monsters out there but cannot ever get above the level of basic and rather obvious horror. Not that this is a bad thing in itself but put it this way it is very much a "Wes Craven Presents" affair even if his name was taken off it for wider release. The story isn't great as really it is just enough narrative to string together lots of flickering lights, shadowy movements and jump scares; it never gets below the surface and is never intriguing enough to really engage but then I suppose that is not what the film is aiming for. Rather it just wants to be a horror that trades on sudden things and half seen creatures and, as such, it works well enough. The creatures stay hidden even when you see them (a good thing) and the ending does not betray the mood of the majority.
The cast aren't anything to write home about but they are as good as the standard you expect for such films. Regan is impressive even if a lot of her role involves screaming; she still does manage to descent convincingly and her fear is believable. As director Harmon enjoys the ominous places such as cupboards and corners and he uses them well even if he is never above having something suddenly jump out it is hardly Ring but it suits the type of film he is trying to make.
Overall this is not a great film but it is an enjoyable genre film a horror with unseen beasts and lots of basic jump scares. It doesn't work above that level but thankfully it doesn't really try to. It may be bad grammar, but if you like this sort of thing then "They" is worth checking out, even if it is a bit samey and predictable for the majority.
"They" is a hidden gem, and an extremely underrated horror.
This is real Horror. The kind that makes you scared to turn off your light. The physicological kind. The very thing nightmares are made of. We have all had "those dreams", whether in our childhood or adult life's. We always have a fear that something is coming for us. Something bad. We don't know what, all we know is - they are going to get us. "They" is a well crafted modern horror, with a slight old school vibe. Forget all the new high budget, best CGI Hollywood offerings. This is far better.
It's now 2008 and "They" still remains in my top 10 favourite Horror movies of all time. Why? It's everything you want in a great Horror. Scary, eerie, creepy, unsettling, claustrophobic - that's what we want, right? When making a Horror movie (that you want to be successful) you have to have suspense - great suspense. "They" has a tremendous amount of suspense from start to end. It has all of those "No, don't go in there moments", but not like your typical, average Horror. It's different. It understands it's audience, and what the audience wants. It delivers in all the right ways.
I've read a lot of bad reviews for this movie - why I don't know. It makes no sense to me. Does no one know what a great Horror movie is anymore? Has almost everyone been fooled by the (oh so generic) Hollywood cheap scare tactics? - maybe so. One thing I do want to point out is, "They" was released in 2002. "Darkness Falls" was released in 2003. So "Darkness Falls" took all of They's ideas. I'm tired of reading reviews were people are complaining saying how "They" ripped of "Darkness Falls". Get all the facts before you accuse.
All in all "They" is one of the best Horror movies I've ever seen. It scares you to your core. It leaves a lasting impression. It's genuinely frightening. It will leave you feeling more than satisfied.
Well, what are you waiting for? Get "They" now!
What ever happened to Wes Craven? A horror director/collaborator who gave
us such unnerving films as A Nightmare On Elm Street, The Hills Have Eyes,
The Serpent And the Rainbow, and I am even willing to concede to the campy
Swamp Thing of 1982. But then came the 90's, and Wes began producing such
awful films as A Vampire in Brooklyn with Eddie Murphy, Shocker and maybe
the worst film of 1991, The People Under The Stairs. Wes began to get some
credibility back with the Scream trilogy and New Nightmare in 1994, but just
as things looked to be back on track, he puts his name above the title of
"They" is a ho-hum horror film directed by Robert Harmon (The Hitcher 1986) and written by newcomer Brandan Hood. "They" refers to monsters in the dark that track young twenty-somethings who used to have bad dreams (known as Night Terrors) in their youth and now believe that creatures are tracking them with the worst of intentions. Ho-Hum.
Laura Regan plays Julia Lund, a young physiatrist wannabe, who after witnessing the suicide of a friend, begins to have a recurrence of night terrors and begins to believe that someone or something is out to get her. Ho-Hum.
Soon, others begin to share with Julia that they are also experiencing bad dreams and that strange markings are appearing on their bodies just before each of their disappearances. One by one, they are hunted by the creatures in the night while Julia tries desperately to get others to believe her story. Ho-Hum.
The story doesn't really matter. Director Robert Harmon has produced a movie that takes the Horror Film Playbook and follows it step by step to the eventual conclusion. There are angled camera shots, flickering lights, constant rain, flashlights that stop working at the most inopportune time, creaky doors that open on their own, windows that fail to open, abandoned subways, and my favourite, a loud phone ring breaking up a tense and silent screen moment. Ho-Hum.
It's not so much that this movie is bad (it is), but rather that it offers absolutely nothing new. We know once each character is left alone, they are next on the body count, we know that no one will listen to the main character, until she goes mad, and we know that the creatures will knock each character off until the last, cutest one remains. Ho-Hum.
Robert Harmon has been associated mostly with television credits in his young career, and it shows. The movie plays like a Stephen King short story adapted to TV rather than something you are expected to dish out $10 plus for. We don't even get to see the creatures in any detail, but rather, they run and lurk in the shadows as if the CGI budget was not big enough to exploit.
Lastly, what marketing genius gave the green light to the title? A horror film with a one word title that is a pronoun? If you asked me, if the studio was set on a one word marquee, I would have suggested `Why'?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It seems fitting to review a film like "They" so soon after reviewing a
film like "The Covenant". Both are PG-13 horror films. Both are about
as dumb as rocks. But, unlike "The Covenant", "They" never realizes
just how dumb it truly is. Rather, it tries to convince us that it is
the scariest film of all-time, but it would be lucky to even be called
the scariest film of the day. Packed with uninspired "boo" scares and
lots of things that go bump in the night, this film seems to be running
on empty right from the starting line, offering only a mish-mash of
themes, scenes, and ideas that have been done before and done better by
earlier films. I learned from the IMDb that, though only one
screenwriter is credited (Brendan Hood), all of his ideas were thrown
out by the studio and no less than ten writers assembled the dodgy
script that was then turned into this film. It's funny, but not
surprising that none of them could come up with a good idea and yet it
was Hood who was unwillingly thrown under the bus. Come on, guys. Give
credit where credit is due; that way we, at least, know who to blame
when the outcome is as bad as "They".
Please read my full review on my blog: www.thelastcritic.blogspot.com
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