Ils (Them) Review
Written by: rerj73
Perhaps it's simply a function of growing older, but I find it difficult to be entertained by the beasties of my childhood. Freddy and Michael and Jason used to pack some serious heebie-jeebies, but now they are entertaining or, worse, dismissable. There are, then, those moments of doubt where I wonder if a movie will ever really scare me again. Enter the film Ils, from co-writers and -producers David Moreau and Xavier Palud. This movie moves like a welterweight: lean, mean and angry.
With only a 77-minute runtime, Ils feels like a part of a larger film, but that's not the point. What this movie does so well is to take the terrifying idea of being alone in your secluded home with one or more strangers, faceless and silent, coming to get you. The leads, as played by Michael Cohen and the wonderful Olivia Bonamy, are average folks, restoring an old home, content with each other, and happy to spend an evening griping about work. When phone calls come late at night, accompanied by odd sounds from outside and the feeling that someone may be in the house, the tension begins.
Moreau and Palud don't rush the movie, despite its brevity, but instead linger on the moments of dread... the slow search of the house, the dash through the woods. All are observed in a distinctly objective manner. By the film's denouement, when the action picks up, it already feels that the viewer has been put through the ringer. This isn't a particularly bloody film, and even the muted colors and general lack of a score enhance the feeling of isolation and terror. This is the old-school freak-out, much like the early works of Carpenter, where the journey is the destination. It doesn't matter where the film ends (though it is not unsatisfying), it's the sheer creepiness that can be mined from the simple thought of 'someone else is in the house.' And that is far scarier than any boogeyman.