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Film review: Few things to like in thriller 'Them'

Published: Friday, Sept. 14 2007 12:00 a.m. MDT

THEM — ** 1/2 — Olivia Bonamy, Michael Cohen; with English subtitles (European dialects); rated R (violence, brief gore, profanity, brief sex).

In Europe, "Them" was a hit on the strength of its more traditional, largely implied-but-not-shown thrills and chills. So it will be interesting to see how this French import plays with American audiences more used to over-the-top gore and violence in their horror movies and suspense-thrillers.

Those who don't need all that graphic content to be jolted and unnerved may find a few things to like here. Although it should be noted that the film's ending is rather unsatisfying, since it doesn't follow things through to the logical resolution.

Allegedly based on real events, "Them" is largely a two-character piece, centering on French teacher Clementine (Olivia Bonamy) and her writer boyfriend Lucas (Michael Cohen). The two are sharing a country house in rural Romania and are just planning to relax and get away from it all when they're disturbed by a series of mysterious noises and other events, both in and outside the house. They're soon afraid to leave but are even more worried that they'll be trapped and possibly killed if they don't.

The film is at its best when we don't know for sure whether the couple is imagining things or if there are spirits or creatures in the house or what else might be going on. Once that mystery is explained, however, it does become a little routine. And that end note is a bit sour.

However, co-directors David Moreau and Xavier Palud are able to generate some real suspense for at least an hour of this relatively short movie. And Bonamy (2001's "Read My Lips") genuinely seems terrified at times.

"Them" is rated R for violent attacks (some of which are either implied or overheard), brief gore and blood, scattered strong profanity and some brief sexual contact. Running time: 75 minutes.


E-mail: jeff@desnews.com

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