THEM, or ILS. (2006) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THEM, or ILS. (2006) DIRECTED BY DAVID MOREAU AND XAVIER PALUD.

STARRING OLIVIA BONAMY AND MICHAEL COHEN.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I absolutely love this French-Romanian horror movie, but that’s not to say I don’t have my beef with it. It’s the story of an extremely attractive French-speaking couple in their thirties, Clementine and Lucas, who have recently moved to a fabulous old house- I think- in the Romanian countryside.

The old mansion and its deliciously dilapidated garden are the real stars of the film for me, along with the drop-dead gorgeous live-in lover, Lucas, who stabs himself in the leg with a shard of glass like a big fool as soon as the action kicks off.

The house looks like it’s been around since World War Two or even earlier. I’d love to live in a big old sprawling house like that, steeped in history and surrounded by a dense, deep dark woods.

The only problem would be the isolation of the place. Indeed, that’s the problem in the film, that the house is so remote and isolated that there’s no-one to come to the couple’s aid when a group of unknown assailants decide to stage a home invasion one dark stormy night.

The house lends itself perfectly to the terror arising out of a home invasion. It’s dark, spooky, spacious, with loads of twists and turns and cubby-holes and places to hide for both intruders and the intruded-upon.

The house is so big, in fact, that one wonders how a school-teacher- Clementine- and a presumably unemployed wannabe-writer- Lucas- can afford the place. Maybe they got a reduction on the rent because the house is so out-of-the-way?

Anyway, the tension and suspense build up quickly (the film’s only 74 minutes long, so they’ve gotta look sharp) and the scares are super-plentiful as Clementine and the divine Lucas are terrorised half to death in their own home by a group of intruders whose agenda they’re completely unaware of.

I mean, what do these people want, anyway? To rob them? Is it money they want? Are they sexually motivated, as in bent on rape? Or are they just messing with the couple for the hell of it, or for reasons unknown even to us, the viewer? Whatever the motivation for the home invasion, the chase through the house, the attics, the garden, the woods, the sewer and the underground labyrinth, these scenes are all terrific and very, very scary.

Trois problèmes, as the French themselves would say. Un, I was bitterly disappointed with the reveal of the perpetrators, nor did I find them particularly believable as assailants. Deux, the film-makers did not manage to convince me that THEM is based on true events. Check out the extra features and you’ll see why I say that.

Trois, and finally, Le Sexe. As in, there was none. The sight of the muscular, dark-haired dreamboat Lucas naked, flanneling himself in the shower, would have gone a long way towards convincing me to forget my nipples with the film. I mean, my niggles. Pardonnez-moi, I confused myself there for a moment.

Or he could have had nudie sex with the mopey-faced Clementine, just so long as we, the viewers, got a good long flash of muscular French buttocks and thighs. Lucas’s, that is to say, ne pas de Clementine’s, lol.

What’s the French for willy, anyway? I can’t keep calling it Le Thingy. Haha. Just googled it. It’s- you’ll never guess- Le Pénis. What an anti-climax, lol. I suppose the French for vagina is La Vagine. No, it’s la Vagin. Just looked it up. No ‘e.’ Very original, France and the French people, very original, well done for that.

Anyway, a terrifically scary film but you may not like the resolution. And there’s no sex in it. But I still love it for the location and the scares and the atmosphere of sheer dread and terror during the home invasion. So it’s a case of swings et roundabouts, my dear reader, swings et roundabouts.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.

INSIDE. (2007) A GORY FRENCH EXTREMITY HORROR FILM REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

inside bathroom

INSIDE. (2007) A FILM BY JULIEN MAURY AND ALEXANDRE BUSTILLO. STARRING BEATRICE DALLE AND ALYSSON PARADIS.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Ralph: Do you like French cinema at all, Ted?

Ted: I wouldn’t know about that now, surr.

Ted and Ralph, The Fast Show.

This is a very pointy, stabby film in the genre known as ‘French extremity.’ Well, it’s both these things all right, French and extreme, and I don’t mind telling you right away that it’s much too extreme for me. It’s nothing but stabbing and blood, blood, blood. I don’t mind a bit of blood but this film is all blood. And stabbing. With big sharp scissors mostly, but also with anything that you can make a pointy shiv out of and stab with.

‘Extreme’ in this case just seems to mean lashings, and I do mean lashings, of body horror, gore, blood and, occasionally, guts. It’s the most blood-soaked film I think I’ve ever watched, and I once watched a film on giving birth in my pre-natal classes. Put me right off giving birth, it did, but by that stage it was too late to reverse the process that was already well under way in my uterus.

I like a nice psychological or supernatural horror, for example, where a family moves into a lovely new house and then they find out they’re sharing it with the Amityville Horror. Stuff like that, or where a woman is pregnant but then she discovers that she was unknowingly raped by Satan on a night out where she can’t remember a smidgeon of what happened, and the baby she’s carrying is actually slated to be the next Anti-Christ, stuff like that. That’s what I like.

Some of my favourite horror films, like BURNT OFFERINGS or THE CHANGELING, both about haunted houses, don’t have any blood in them at all and no-one gets stabbed. That’s what I prefer. I think what happened with INSIDE is that the film-makers decided that they were going to make the film as ‘extreme’ as they could to garner good reviews and plenty of attention, but the only way they could think to do that was to put a ton of blood and gore in it. Gore to me equals bore.

This home invasion film actually did get a load of positive reviews, probably from people who thought, oh wow, there’s so much blood and stabbing in this film that it must be great! Hmmm. I’m not saying the film isn’t well-written and executed (no pun intended), in fact it’s extremely well-scripted and acted, but I still didn’t like it because of all the gratuitous stabby, shooty killings.

Here’s the plot, anyway. A sulky, mopey French photographer woman called Sarah is due to give birth and, on Christmas Eve of all nights, her home is invaded by a mysterious madwoman about whom we know nothing, except that she’s beautiful in an odd, off-kilter way, she’s come impractically dressed for stabbing in an over-long black, trippy-uppy dress and her weapon of choice is a big scary pair of scissors.

She’s come, not so much for Sarah, but for the package Sarah is due to deliver any time now… the baby. The home becomes a place of terror (and the film’s title takes on a sinister double meaning) as this un-named madwoman rampages through the house trying to catch a petrified Sarah who, mopey or not, is not about to give up her bambino without one hell of a fight. That’s the maternal instinct right there, fighting for survival.

The cops come (all big, burly and extremely attractive), and a random criminal called Abdul, who all have to be dealt with by the mysterious crazy lady. The bodies pile up and the blood flows freely as Sarah’s baby, of whom we’re given distressing little 3-D snapshots from time to time, comes ever closer to being born.

Sarah, incidentally, if you like a little bit of showbiz gossip, is played by the younger sister of Vanessa Paradis, the French actress and one-time child pop star (Remember Joe Le Taxi?) who has two children by her ex-partner Johnny Depp. These are all very, very good-looking people we’re talking about here. Showbiz good-looking, I mean, not just regular good-looking. We peasants are not fit to grace their radars, even as temporary blips. Remember that, peasants. Lol. 

It’s a really good plot, the plot of INSIDE, well acted and everything, but the amount of gore in the film means that it’s just not for me, not my cup of tea. Each to their own, though. Someone else might love it, depending on their tolerance for blood and stabbings. Check it out, anyway, see what you think. Me, personally, I won’t be going anywhere near this one again. Did I mention it has way too much blood…?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor