They (2002)–movie review

they poster

Director:  Robert Harmon

Starring:  Laura Regan, Marc Blucas, Ethan Embry

 

I often ask myself questions after watching a movie.  Could that really happen?  Are they going to make a sequel?  What would I have done differently?  In the case of They, I had but one question when the credits rolled.

WTF was this movie about?

First, the quick synopsis (I may include some spoilers here, but trust me, if you actually decide to watch this film after reading this, knowing the plot—or lack thereof—really won’t make a difference).

So here we go.  This short-haired blonde chick is about to earn her Master’s Degree in Psychology after suffering from night terrors as a child.  This is the first major cliché in this film, and believe me, it’s not the only one.  She witnesses a tragic event involving a childhood friend and then shit starts to get weird as she discovers she and another couple are being stalked by…well…I’m not exactly sure what.  Cliché number 2 is that these whatever-the-hells only come after them when it’s dark and wouldn’t you know it—the city just happens to be experiencing a vicious bout of widespread power outages during all this weirdness.  I wish I could tell you how each character is dispatched but I can’t, they’re all just dragged quickly out of the shot and we’re left to our own imaginations as to the awful things that must be happening to them.  The Texas Chainsaw Massacre did an otherworldly job at this, They did not.  Anyway, cliché number 175 rears its ugly head when the main actress gets thrown into a mental institute where she’s dragged into some alternate universe that apparently exists in her closet.  And the movie ends.  Thank God.

 

they screenshot (Yep, this is pretty much the scariest part of the whole movie……)

 

I found myself counting all of the other GOOD horror movies that must have influenced the filmmakers on this one.  It’s as if Alien, Darkness Falls, Pitch Black and A Nightmare on Elm Street got together for a gang bang and They is the result, with no clue who the actual father is.  What these other films did well, They did poorly.  They beat the whole “show as little of the monster as possible” method into the ground, to the point that I still haven’t the foggiest idea as to what the hell the creatures actually look like.  What little you do see of them is clearly CGI, but take that with a grain of salt, CGI in 2002 wasn’t what it is today.  The formula for this film was simple:  stay in the light, you’ll be alright.  Pitch Black still ranks as one of my all time “sleeper” greats, and I still remember watching it in my living room, having no clue that it had ever been released in theaters.  The day after watching it I stocked up on glow sticks, you know, just in case.  They tried to offer up the same level of light vs. dark tension but it came up miserably short.  Instead it just repeated the same scene over and over with different characters.  The film could have at least made up a little ground by offering up some blood and guts, but again, the filmmakers were so caught up in trying to reinvent the “suspense” wheel that they missed out in this area too.  In fact, the only blood in the entire film belongs to each character in the form of some unsightly scabs that they develop when their time is almost up, for whatever reason.

I actually read another review for this film on another VERY well known horror blog and the reviewer gave it surprisingly high marks.  The author of that article mentioned that after the first scene the film took off
“with no apparent plot direction”, which for whatever reason in his mind was a good thing.

I agree with the first part of that.

In closing, do yourself a favor and skip this one unless you’re extremely sick and have run out of films to watch in bed.  In that case watch all of the other films mentioned in this review, then watch They.  Especially if you’re feeling very, very sleepy…

–Tyson  tyson headshot

 

The Verdict

Overall:

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Plot:

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Acting:

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Gore:

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Atmosphere:

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Suspense:

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