A great concept poorly executed, “They” has all the problem present in the previous “Wes Craven Presents…” title “Wishmaster”. Gross out gore has been swapped for PG-rated creepy jump scares but that’s not the problem at all (far be it, its one of the film’s stronger benefits).
The problem here lies in the story – night terrors and ‘monsters in the dark’ can be two of the most frightening pieces of subject matter there is if done correctly (read Stephen King’s “The Boogeyman” for an utterly frightening piece of fiction). The writers here though, after starting with an admittedly creepy opening, rehash many of the most overused cliches to try and get scares and sadly they just don’t work.
Weaker still are the performances. Laura Reagan is as bad as that chick from “Soul Survivors” – overacting and not very convincing at doing the hysterical “seeing things” routine. Ethan Embry, one of the great young comic supporting actors around these days, is given a totally forgettable part despite one or two fun lines though Jon Abrahams does well in his one scene cameo.
Dagmara Dominczyk benefits from having the best sequence in the film set around a swimming pool, whilst Marc Blucas plays the usual hunky bland boyfriend role just as you’d expect. Director Robert Hanlon does a decent job with the material though – there’s no mistaking the fact that several of the jump scares in this do work whilst other scenes have a good atmosphere and tension to them.
Also beneficial is the fact we never really see these creatures in full, only glimpses throughout which makes them more Alien-esque scary. Still, that’s not enough to cover the fact there’s nothing much appealing about this C-grade “X-Files” episode. A video rental at best.