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.