Dark Sky Films

"Them," a film from first-time French writers-directors David Moreau and Xavier Palud, is about as elemental as a horror film can get: terrorize a blameless married couple for about 60 of the film's brief 75 minutes until the characters can no longer think or act rationally.

The threat comes from the unknown. In and around a large country home in the dead of night, shadowy assailants lurk everywhere -- in the garden, the house, then the attic and even on the roof. The film operates off sheer dread, since these mysterious hooded figures come at the poor couple with relentless, wordless malevolence and for no apparent reason.

The film opens today in New York in a limited domestic national rollout by Dark Sky Films. It should scare up a bit of boxoffice as it does hearken back to the day when horror meant the imagination gone wild rather than severed body parts. Otherwise, the film is all too pointless.

After a teaser where these nighttime assailants terrify and murder a woman and her daughter stranded on a desolate road heading for Bucharest, Romania, the movie settles in with the next victims: Clementine (Olivia Bonamy), who teaches at a French school in Bucharest, and her writer husband Lucas (Michael Cohen). They live in a large house in the forest, clearly a prime candidate for a visit from Them.

Things begin with strange noises and the apparent theft of Clem's car. Next thing the couple knows, doors and windows begin to bang, shutters slam shut and the electricity fails. Soon Lucas is wounded by flying glass and someone is stalking Clem. Clem pushes one surprisingly unresisting intruder from her roof, but even this fails to stop the onslaught.

When the couple escapes the house and stumbles through the woods, illogic strikes as they climb down into an underground storm drain that is clearly urban. One might also wonder how Them always manages to unerringly discover where their victims are hiding. One shouldn't question too much in horror films.

The ending underscores the old cliche about the banality of evil but getting there is meant to be the whole fun. For some people at least.