Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Night 20: Ils/ Them

I'm feeling a bit redundant this morning. Not because last night's selection failed to introduce anything new. That is true enough, but thanks to a very tight focus and short running time, Ils/Them still managed to generate more tension and suspense than the vast majority of horror films coming out of Hollywood these days.

No, I'm feeling redundant because I stumbled across another blog, called "Horror Movie a Day," that makes my little October marathon seem like a potato-sack race in comparison. Daily horror viewings for nearly two years? Multiple entries per day? What the hell is wrong with that guy? Doesn't he have a life? Is he being monitored by the authorities? Well, maybe he should be.

Fortunately, his page takes a really long time to load. Like at least 10 seconds. Plus, he includes stuff he catches on, like, the Sci-Fi channel and stuff. So I'm much more hardcore. Really. I am.

Back to Them. And by them, I mean the French, who seem to be a bit obsessed with the notion of getting terrorized in their country villas. Evidently, the riots and other recent acts of underclass upheaval in France have generated quite a bit of bourgeois fear and guilt. In yet another iteration of the trope I discussed in my post on the Blair Witch Project, Them purports to be based on actual events. I have to admit that little tidbit always elevates interest for me. As with most cases, though, "based" should be replaced with "inspired" or perhaps even "suggested." I can't discuss those real events without spoiling the ending of Them, so instead I'll pause to tell a story that is not just based but actually comprised of real events.

A few days ago, someone rummaged around in my wife's car as it was parked in our driveway, looking for something of value. Not exactly life threatening, but unsettling nonetheless. A few minutes ago, I heard a sound I couldn't identify in my empty home. I must be learning something from my nightly activities, because I immediately grabbed a screwdriver. I crept down my hallway--I shit you not--while hugging the wall. I sneaked upstairs, towards the source of the sound. Halfway up I realized that I was stalking our unbalanced dryer.

I tell this embarrassing but swear-on-my-grave-true tale to illustrate two points. One, I very well could be losing my mind. And two, just as memory is apparently hardwired to our sense of smell, I think fear is equally yoked to our sense of hearing. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it? Only those stoneage ancestors frightened enough to flee from from the footfalls of the sabre tooth lived to tell the tale and pass those nervous ears on to us.

Them makes fantastic use of this fight-or-flight reaction, using simple noises to ratchet up the tension to a very respectable level. I wouldn't say it "nears perfection in almost every aspect," as some guy over at bloodydigusting.com rather breathlessly exclaimed, but it does throw more weight behind the notion that the French are kicking our asses on at least one battlefield.

Scorecard (out of ten skulls):
Scare Factor:

My psychological status:

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