Now attached to an American remake of The Eye, and previously linked to new take on The Last House on the Left too, Xavier Palud and David Moreau rocketed themeselves to the big time with Ils, or, Them, a very modest, sincerely creepy and rather elegant chiller. I think filmmakers with such promise might do well to be a little more ambitious than signing up for simple remakes, but nonetheless, I am already very keen to see how they rejig those established properties. At the very least we might end up with something to stand alongside Alexandre Aja's fairly successful, warmed-up The Hills Have Eyes.
On the subject of their brakthrough film, however, I can be more confident. Daring to be purposefully set in Romania, and not just exploiting the location for a cheeky budget cut, Them sets it's action almost entirely in a spooky old house - and a rather barren, spooky old house at that. For almost 80 minutes we cower inside this bleak house with our young couple of protagonists (Michael Cohen and Bloody Mallory's Olivia Bonamy) while unseen and genuinely mysterious assailants set about tormenting them. Old school stuff, this needed to be handled with care, and rest assured, Palud and Moreau earn their Golden Tickets to Hollywood quite comfortably.
There is a big reveal at the end, and many people do have issues with it, but not so many or as much as, say, the 'twist' in Switchblade Romance. presonally, I think that much fun could be had in trying to second guess what is coming, but there's even more enjoyment to be taken from just going along with the things-that-go-bump-in-the-night scaremongering. The Zone Horror Frightfest audience, hardened as they are, should clock up a fair few jumps, jolts and hairs-on-end, even the odd cheer and satisfied burst of surprised laughter.
Them is simple but not too simplistic, often rather atmospheric, and an attempt at edge-of-the-seat creepiness that is executed with commitment if not outright bravura. For my money Palud and Moreau have already made a better horror film than The Eye - now the just have to do it again, with the remake, and with Jessica Alba in tow.
Book for the Zone Horror Frightfest now.
The Korean site for Them is live now, with trailers, images and "cummunity".