Thursday, February 7, 2013
77 minutes, at least three sittings
What's the most number of sittings it has taken you to get through a 77-minute movie?
I'm going on at least three for the 2006 French horror movie Them.
I hope to finish the movie on my next sitting, which will be my third. But I've still got 23 minutes left. So far, it has been a significant obstacle to make any headway in this film, so I'm not going to guarantee I'll take down those 23 minutes on my next attempt.
I started watching Them on Saturday night. I chose it specifically for its short running time. Exhausted from a day of digging trenches in our yard (we're being alpha homeowners by installing our own sprinkler system), I still figured I could get through 77 minutes, even starting after 10 o'clock. I actually got through 45 minutes.
Then last night I made a go of finishing the final 32 minutes. Again the circumstances were less than ideal. I'd had a hard day (the clutch on my car died -- yes, I drive a stick -- and it's going to cost beaucoup bucks to fix), so I finished the day with two beers. Perhaps I shouldn't have told my body it was time to go sleep by brushing my teeth, because once I climbed in bed to watch those 32 minutes, I didn't even manage a third of that.
Some of this can/should be blamed on the movie. It's like Ti West's stellar The House of the Dead in that it's essentially a haunted house movie that contains tons and tons of build-up to what might be a big payoff. (For the sticklers out there, neither of the houses in these films is technically a "haunted house," but both use a "haunted house narrative structure" because they take place almost exclusively inside one domicile, at least from the end of the first act onward.) The difference is that West's film gave me confidence throughout that the big payoff was coming. I'm not so sure this time.
And because it's so minimalist in establishing its scares, you don't have that much in terms of actual plot to grab on to as you make your way through the narrative. That's killer when you are fighting off sleep with all your might.
Still, I do have hope that Them will pay off in a big way. Them is directed by the duo of David Moreau and Xavier Palud, and I liked a lot of what they did with the Jessica Alba vehicle The Eye, which was a remake of a successful J-horror. In fact, my relative satisfaction with The Eye was what caused me to put Them on my queue in the first place.
One bit about the way this film was advertised is puzzling, though. Moreau and Palud go to great lengths to conceal the identity/appearance of the titular "them," and in fact, at the 54-minute mark, we still haven't gotten a clear look a them. Yet the poster above betrays the directors by giving at least their silhouettes up front. I'm starting to think that this is the kind of movie where silhouettes will be all we'll get. And while that's a good thing, it means that the poster deflated the suspense entirely.
I guess the final 23 minutes will tell me a lot. Eventually.