Among movie fright-fans, one of the most currently fashionable varietals is French horror. Seemingly inspired by the art-directed aeries and commercial instincts of Luc Besson, this new group of Gallic gorehounds fashions films that are always stylish, often spellbinding and sometimes very scary. While some tend to be more flash than substance, the film "Them" is surprisingly tight, efficient and economical, conjuring a super-creepy atmosphere and incredible tension seemingly out of nothing at all.
Written and directed by David Moreau and Xavier Palud, "Them" begins with a neat bit of trickery that might make some moviegoers think they've entered the wrong theater, as a Romanian mother and daughter bicker on a darkened nighttime road. (Apparently it's not just Eli Roth's fevered imagination that conjures Eastern Europe as a repository of psychic rupture and violent discontent.)
The connection to the main action becomes apparent soon enough, as a French couple are terrorized in the country house they share outside Budapest. The who and the why of the film remain its motivating mystery as the what of what happens to the couple builds to an ever-increasing level of pressure and shock. Chased through the house by an unseen attacker (or attackers), the couple find themselves thwarted at every turn. Eventually, answers are revealed, but perhaps the only thing more disturbingly unnerving than not knowing who is attacking this couple is actually finding out.