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They
cast: Laura Regan, Marc Blucas, Ethan Embry, Dagmara Dominiczyk, and Jon Abrahams

directors: Rick Bota, Robert Harmon

89 minutes (15) 2002
EV VHS rental retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Alasdair Stuart
Released around the same time as Darkness Falls, this covers loosely similar ground. It takes as its basis the idea of night terrors, nightmares so vivid that children believe they're real. However, where Darkness Falls combined this idea with the familiar 'horrific local legend', They moves in a very different direction. The idea is simple; there are creatures that can move into this world through shadows; they hate light and every now and again humans can see them. And, of course, they can see humans too...
Trapped in the centre of this is Julia Lund, played by Laura Regan. Julia has convinced herself that the things she saw as a child weren't real, so much so that she's entering the same field of psychology that saved her sanity. However, when Billy (Jon Abrahams), a childhood friend returns, convinced that the creatures they saw as children have returned, Julia's world begins to fall apart.

They is less of a monster movie, more an investigation into whether or not there's a monster at all. On one side of this debate is Julia's paramedic boyfriend Paul (Marc Blucas), a man who sees terrible things every day and knows how to deal with them. On the other are Terry (Dagmara Dominczyk) and Sam (Ethan Embry), friends of Billy's who believe the same thing he does. The creatures are returning and everyone is marked, including Julia.

There's a constant ambiguity to the threat and the viewer changes their view as often as Julia does. This constant uncertainty in turn gives the film an oppressive, uneasy feel that makes even the simplest sequences bristle with tension. Whether the creatures are real or not, Julia is affected by their presence and her gradual disintegration is extremely disturbing to watch.

It's helped no end by the elegant, minimalist effects work. The creatures are almost always glimpsed skittering across the field of view so fast it's not clear whether or not they're real or imagined. Even the ending leaves this deliberately open with some evidence pointing to their reality and some pointing to Julia's total nervous collapse.

In conclusion, They is an elegant, pared down horror movie with atmospheric effects work, good performances and an excellent script. Smart, scary and original this is well worth seeking out.
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