Wes Craven’s They (2002) attacks us where we feel most comfortable; our bedrooms, our homes, our bathrooms. Billy (John Abrahams) and Julia (Laura Regan) were plagued by nightmares as children, haunted by night terrors that saw both of them under psychiatric consult at a young age. The terrors presented themselves as dark creatures; They came at night, monsters in the closet, under the bed, outside the window. Most importantly, They cannot come into the light.
But after 19 years the children have grown up. Julie is now a graduate student in psychology. After Billy shoots himself in front of Julia, she begins to notice signs of them again, and the night terrors of her childhood return. The more she finds out about Billy, the more worried she becomes.
The plot is simple; four people discover that their childhood nights terrors are coming back to haunt them. Further enquiry gets some of them killed, leaves some of them missing, and leaves our heroin fighting an unknown, unseen creature, whilst also fighting to prove that these events are actually happening; that They aren’t just figments of her imagination.
Wes Craven has always had a flare for horror. His ability to create tension in plot lines transforms the screen into something sinister, at times terrifying. Craven manages to hit most of us at home; in our sleep (A Nightmare on Elm Street), in our families (The Hills Have Eyes), in our friendship groups (the Scream franchise). They carries the trait of close knit personal horror, hitting us where most of us are frightened: in the dark.
Like any typical horror movie, glimpses of the monster are rare. In They it is particularly hard to see the creature, as it only exists in the dark. Clever editing and direction makes these rare glimpses an easy avenue to create tension in the viewer. These techniques allow for cheap thrills and a few convenient scares, but overall They is not an overly scary film. The thrill lies in waiting to see if the creature will return, and waiting to discover if the viewer will ever get to see Their true nature. The ending may leave some viewers wanting more, as the tension is never fully resolved. This, again, is typical of many Wes Craven movies, which generally leave the ending unfinished, possibly in hopes of a future sequel. True horror fans will appreciate the sinister ending, and be understanding of the fact that nothing is ever fully resolved. A well rounded, controlled film. Two and a Half stars.