Not to be confused with the 1954 film of the same name (sans the exclamation point), THEM is a ghost story of sorts that wasn’t bad, but does leave a bit to be desired.
Our story begins with a shot that features the title over a piece of gauze that is slowly absorbing blood, which was admittedly really cool. We are then shown the front view of a house and a fellow that looks a bit like Seth Rogen getting out of his vehicle. Once in the house we are introduced to our main characters; Vinnie (Jay Mahfood) and Laura (Pia Aquirre), who live in the aforementioned home and Mark, who is the Rogen-looking guy, played by Mike Flusberg. Mark is there for a party that Vinnie and Laura are hosting and he tells them he brought his friend, Ethan (Steven Fritschle), whom they are reluctant to let in, based on the crazy back story of this person that they are nice enough to inform the viewer of during their dialogue. It turns out that Ethan’s brother killed their parents and Ethan is now the creepy, quiet guy that no one really wants around. They agree to let him in and our story officially gets rolling. In the tradition of Horror, the three characters are jerks to Ethan, which makes us eager to see bad stuff happen to them. Ethan simply comes across as lonely, yet is content to not be involved in their exchanges. I can’t help but wonder why he came along, or why Mark brought him in the first place. If his function is to be their punching bag, why even pretend to like him? They eventually leave him alone so they can go drink in private and this is when the film starts to pick up steam. Ethan begins to hear ‘them’ and is eventually visited by a spectral image of his brother, Elliot (Gerardo De Sousa), who tells him that ‘they’ are coming and he needs to get out of the house. Ethan tries to warn the others, who do not believe him and Mike allows Vinnie to punch him out. When Ethan regains consciousness, the real terror begins. I’m sure you can figure where it all goes from there, so I won’t bother explaining any more.
Ultimately, THEM isn’t a bad film, but it’s not the actors or the story that make it interesting, it was the use of sound and visual effects. The post-production work that was done on this film is where the glory lies. The editing from Naar and the effects from Daniel Skinner are truly what make the creepiness happen and they are to be saluted for some fine, fine work. I watched this twice in a row and still jumped at the same points and even had a few chills travel up my spine! As for the coolness of the visual-effects, one particular shot really did it for me: pay attention to the scene when Ethan and Elliot are having their exchange and the moment when Elliot tells Ethan to run. I dug that, immensely! I found it hilarious that the actors have protection between them and the floor, to keep from any blood getting on it! What kind of a prude lets a Horror film be shot in their home yet worries about messing up the tile floor?
We all have films we enjoy that carry poor acting along for the ride, so I’ll try to put this in perspective for everyone. I enjoyed the film for what it was, but the acting is so bad that it made me want to watch Plan 9 from Outer Space, so I could see acting that is believable. Take it or leave it, folks.
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