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10-05-2006, 11:46 PM
Review Date: October 5, 2006
Released by: Buena Vista
Release date: 6/10/2003
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
The word 'Wes Craven' used to be associated with such horror icons as Freddy Kreuger, or cult classics such as Last House on the Left. Today, at least with more mainstream audiences, he's known for the Scream trilogy and his various 'Wes Craven Presents' films. Now lets not be silly here. We all know that Wes had little to absolutely nothing to do with these movies. Read the scripts? Unlikely? Executive produce, aka collect a big fat paycheck for slapping your name on the title? Yup. As a result, Wes has "presented" us with such trash as Wishmaster, Carnival of Souls, and Dracula 2000. Needless to say, when I saw Wes presenting They, along with it's PG-13 rating, I skipped right over it. As fate would have it, I was feeling a bit daring at the video store one day and decided to give it a rental. Good, bad, or toss it back into the trash heap? Read on for my thoughts on They.
Julia (Laura Regan) is a young woman on the verge of acquiring a master's degree in psychology. At first glance she has a wonderful life - a promising future and a boyfriend, Paul (Marc Blucas), that is crazy about her. After a night out, Julia and Paul begin to get a litte busy in the bedroom. Before things get too far, Julia receive a call from her childhood friend Billy (Jon Abrahams). Billy is unstable and Julia leaves to meet with him. Julia discovers Billy is a mess, rambling about night terrors - nightmares about creatures of the night that terrorized them both during their childhood. Billy claims the night terrors marked them as children, and now THEY are back.
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Julia loses Billy after he takes his own life. Soon after she begins to experience strange, unexplainable visions. Julia turns to Sam and Terry, friends of Billy from college, in hopes of finding answers to Billy and his obsession with the night terrors. The group have one common interest: they all experienced night terrors as children, and the night terrors are returning for each of them. Lost and confused, Julia turns to Dr. Booth, her childhood doctor that treated her for night terrors. The doctor suspects stress and trauma are the reason for her night terrors returning.
Julia's visions of the night terrors do not subside; the incidents become more and more real. She will soon discover the truth. Are they just a figment of her imagination? Or are her worst childhood nightmares becoming a reality?
What surprised me about They is how much I enjoyed it. I scoured the Internet after enjoying it so much, only to find I was in the minority. While far from a classic, They is easily as the top of the 'Wes Craven Presents' list. Laura Regan, besides being easy on the eyes, turns in a solid performance as the troubled Julia. The interactions between her and "they" (or is it "them"?) are few, but the affect they have on her, past and present, are portrayed convincingly. The rest of the cast are easily forgettable, which is more likely a fault of the script rather than their acting abilities. More on that in a bit.
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They works by giving you only peaks at the creatures. Some will balk on this, as surely this is somewhat a result of a low budget, but it works here. The night terrors are the childhood nightmares come true. As children, it's our imagination is responsible for scaring us the most. As viewers, we get peaks at the mysterious creatures and their dark, frightening world. Ultimately what THEY are is left to our imagination. While part of me yearns for more, the other part of me loves the mystery and imagination They presents. We've all had bad dreams and we've all wondered about the monsters in the closet as children. That's what makes They work as a horror movie.
Not all is good, however. They could have been so much more. The story bogs in the middle and the supporting actors are forgettable due to their subpar characters. The story does a good job focusing on Julia and her troubles, but the viewer has no incentive to care or even hope for the survival of the other characters. All is forgiven when we're given a fantastic ending. The only ending that could top it would be the alternate ending (more on that in the Supplements section). So, while They has its flaws, give it a rental if you passed it over in theaters. You may just enjoy it.
Presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, They boasts an above average transfer. No grain or blemishes were visible, but some MPEG artifacts are present during playback. Colors are vibrant with solid blacks present in the numerous nighttime scenes. I'm rating it with a B+.
They contains a Dolby Digital 5.1. Rear activity is minor, though some of the tense moments in the film but the subwoofer to good use. Dialogue is clear throughout and no distortion of any kind was heard.
http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/they/they_menus.jpg (http://www.horrordvds.com/reviews/n-z/they/they_menul.jpg) They is essentially a bare bones DVD. I would have loved a commentary track hear more about the making of the movie. We are fortunate enough to get an alternate ending which rivaled the theatrical ending. Both ending are great; I'm unable to decide which one I liked better.
While They could have been so much more, the movie remains an enjoyable horror that plays on something we've all feared: bad dreams. With the retail price at a mere $9.99, I highly recommend it as a blind buy. While extras are light, the discs sports a solid audio and video presentation, with a great alternate ending as an extra.
Movie - B
Image Quality - B+
Sound - B+
Supplements - B-
Running time - 1 hour 30 minutes
English Dolby 5.1
10-06-2006, 01:31 AM
For some reason, this film and Darkness Falls have become the same movie in my head. I can't remember where one begins and the other ends. It's all the same.
12-04-2006, 12:37 AM
I had a good feeling about this flick both before and after seeing it -- that is to say, I felt good and spooked after my first viewing. I think it does bear resemblance to 'Darkness Falls', but the deja vu is completely understandable - both are focused a great deal upon childhood fear of the dark; also, both were, filmed with a great exaggeration of shadow to serve the subject matter.
IMHO, 'They' would be the winner. After all, how can we really be scared after the hokey ending of 'Darkness Falls'? That there is a case where 'darkness fails'; as in 'fails to scare me'. 'They', in spite of a few shortcomings, does have one corker of an ending, and accomplishes such without a lame 'gotcha twist', as has become such a staple of the thriller and horror genres.
'They' shall not escape with glowing praise however. As indicated above, it would seem that while the director, cinematographer and actors were all game for creating a real ball-to-the-wall horror ride, the script was not. It positions the characters in too many situations where they basically have a choice between staying safe or putting themselves in danger for the sake of a cheap jump-scare; and what do you think they chose? You got it - Predictability City. Instead of devising inescapable situations where characters are forced to deal with something horrible, the actors are robbed of all forethought, puppeted by the script to perform in a "scare", where anyone in real life would simply walk away. That shit pisses me off.
Like I said before,though - CORKER of an ending. The ride getting there's pretty damned decent, too, but fuck, yeah - THAT's how you end a horror movie! For my two cents, I prefer it over the alternate 'gotcha twist' ending.
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