Them [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - Australia - Umbrella Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (10th May 2024).
The Film

"Them" ("Ils") (2006)

Clémentine (played by Olivia Bonamy) and Lucas (played by Michaël Cohen) are a French couple living in Romania, with Clémentine teaching French at an elementary school and Lucas being a novelist suffering from writer's block. The two live a secluded life in an old mansion in the middle of a forest which is quiet and peaceful, but one evening they get some unexpected visitors who start terrorizing the young couple late into the night...

After working on short films, advertisements, and television separately, directors David Moreau and Xavier Palud made their feature film debut with "Them", a home invasion story that they claim was based on a story they heard from a driver while location scouting for an ad in the Czech Republic. They were told that some Austrians who were living in the Czech Republic were attacked in their home, and from that idea came their vision of unsettling terror. Changing the setting from the Czech Republic to Romania, and the Austrians to French, they looked to telling a story through a relatable couple - with Clémentine and Lucas.

Clémentine and Lucas are a young couple in their twenties living abroad in Romania due to her job as a schoolteacher. For Lucas, he could technically work wherever he wants remotely due to his stated career as a writer. Although being in a different country and a new environment should give him inspiration for his writing, he is spending more time gaming on his computer than writing. This also extends to housework, as he may be at the large mansion all day and night, though he has no ambition to make it a cozier place for them. Nor does he look to try to make their dinners more delicious, as his cooking skills are subpar to say the least. It seems that Lucas is basically in the country for the purpose of being closer to his girlfriend and he has little to no intention of integrating into Romanian life for the long term. He hasn't learned any of the language and seems that he isn't willing to change that ideal. As for Clémentine, she is trying to make the best of the situation, having to commute by car from home to work every day and not having much free time for herself. While the couple do not seem to be totally ideal for each other, the time they spend together, whether at the dinner table or in front of the television, they are loving and have fun with laughs and cuddles as any young couple would. It was said that the script had little dialogue for the couple in written form so the interactions by Bonamy and Cohen were largely made through improvised sessions being incorporated. It's not entirely laid out as to how and why they are living in a large mansion slightly out of the city, though it seems that it is not "theirs" to say. The place is partially furnished though it barely looks lived in, and looks like it may have been an abandoned place. It certainly has a creepy look with its dark interior and it's odd that there is little to be said about it. Was it the cheapest place they could afford with the largest space? It certainly doesn't seem like a place that her school accommodated for her to live in. But the location is certainly the smallest of their worries when the evening comes.

The production was shot on Panasonic AG-DVX100 digital video cameras rather than traditional film by cinematographer Axel Cosnefroy. As it is a lightweight camera made for the consumer market, the production was able to utilize tighter spaces, quick motion, and more freedom than a traditional film camera or higher end digital video cameras could. This becomes more apparent in the latter half of the feature, where the horror begins with the couple being terrorized. While the first half has more of a traditional feel with its camera movements and editing, the second half is similar to the opening sequence of the film in which a Romanian mother and teenage daughter are attacked in the middle of the night on the side of the road, setting up the unsettling tone of the rest of the feature. The second half is quicker in pacing, has much more creativity for a style that is closer to a documentary in chases, closeups, and the frenetic energy coming from both the scared leads and the camerawork. It doesn't particularly break new ground completely, though it is a shift in tone that works well for the nature of the situation.

With a number of home invasion films, it's common that the invader is there with a purpose - for vengeance, a haunted spirit, a serial killer, etc. For "Them" it takes an unconventional route by having no particular reason for the invaders to attack this particular couple. There is no prior encounter to entangle them, nothing supernatural, no motive at all. Instead, it is a group of kids pre-teen and younger that are out late at night and playing a dangerous game of pranks on the couple. Is their purpose to hunt and kill? Absolutely not as shown, but as they are hidden in shadows and their voices unheard until much later, it comes as a surprise that they are the ones terrorizing the couple, as they also were the ones that killed the mother and daughter in the opening scene which took place the night before. The children are not her students from school, they have no relationship with the couple at all. They are just a group of ragtag kids that are out late at night without parental supervision, not seeing the consequences of their actions as "bad" at all. It is an unusual twist to have the attackers be something completely disconnected, but it also gives the unsettling situation more discomfort, as the brutality that comes later on are geared towards little kids. While "Them" is not a gory film in comparison to other films in the French Extremity movement of the period, there are some shocking moments to be shown. It raises questions on moral implications as well as terror coming from something as pure as children, though there have been a number of child-based horror films in the past, though this is the twist at the end rather than the up front nature as seen in other features.

Shot in 2005 in the outskirts of Bucharest, Romania with a French & Romanian crew, the film had its premiere on April 8th, 2006 at the Cognac Film Festival in France, followed by a general theatrical release in France on July 19th, 2006. It would receive theatrical and DVD releases throughout the year and into 2007 worldwide, and the feature would receive mixed reviews with some commenting highly on the tension while others were negative on the logic and actions of the characters. Riding high on the marketability of French horror films at the time, it would easily find an audience on DVD worldwide, though it is not the highest in recognizability in the genre, with average at best. "Them" does have its moments, though overall it does feel sparse in its narrative backstories being non-existent and characters being limited.

Note this is a region All Blu-ray


Umbrella Entertainment presents the film in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio in 1080p AVC MPEG-4. The HD transfer comes from rightsholder Studio Canal. The production was shot on Panasonic AG-DVX100 cameras, which was the first consumer grade digital video camera to be able to shoot in at 24fps progressively (in addition to 30fps progressive and 60fps interlaced). The resolution was in standard definition, so effectively the transfer will not be anywhere near HD or film quality standards. Shot and edited digitally then transferred to film for 35mm theatrical projections, it had a similar quality in production as the widely lauded "28 Days Later" in 2002 (which used the Canon XL-1 camera at 25fps PAL speed for its production), so there is a lot of digital noise, graininess, and lack of sharpness to the image here, upscaled to HD. Colors can look bland and dark, brighter spots are drab, and it is all around a fairly ugly image, though it is the intended original look. With it being boosted to HD, the worst looking moments are in the opening credits, which the text looks quite blurry considering the source. On the other hand, the closing credits seem to come from a differing source, as it the scrolling text looks pin sharp in HD. While it may sound harsh in the way the image looks throughout, it does help with the gritty, dark, and creepy environments of the second half of the feature, with the corridors, the rooms, the forest and their surroundings having a much more terrifying look in which the viewers cannot make out what the details precisely are. The image is accurately framed in the theatrical aspect ratio, and there are no major issues with the transfer itself in regards to errors or anything else. It may not look "good", but this is how it always looked from the DVD era and is the intended visual style.

The film's runtime is 76:54.


French/Romanian DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
French/Romanian DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo

The original audio track which is mostly French with some portions in Romanian is offered in both the original 5.1 and optional 2.0 stereo in lossless forms. The film relies heavily on the sound design with creepy noises and effects in the latter half of the feature, and it takes advantage of the soundscape with the rears being mostly for ambient effects. The directional use is also very good with both the music cues and effects, and dialogue is almost always centered and well balanced. There are no issues of pops, dropout, or other errors to speak of for an effective soundtrack.

There are optional English HoH subtitles for the main feature in a white font. Yes, these are hard-of-hearing subtitles unfortunately, so captions with [sound effects] will occasionally appear on screen. This is slightly disappointing as it should be a standard that standard translation subtitles be offered for foreign language films. On the positive side, they are well timed and easy to read without errors to speak of.


Audio commentary by Faculty of Horror hosts Alexandra West, author of Films of the New French Extremity: Visceral Horror and National Identity & Andrea Subissati, Executive Editor of Rue Morgue Magazine (2024)
This new and exclusive commentary track has West and Subissati discussing the New French Extremity movement of the early 2000s and where "Them" fits in, about the main couple’s relationship and the contrast to the happenings, about the sparse use of music cues, the theme of unwanted outsiders with the French couple in a foreign country, Romania's political history and the effects of Decree 770, and more. They are also quite critical of the character of Lucas and his actions throughout for various reasons with some humorous touches to commenting on his cooking and laziness. There isn't too much information on the making-of with the use of digital video or the on set accidents, though there is a lot of good information to be found.
in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"Safe as Houses" 2024 video essay on home invasion horror films by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (14:02)
This new and exclusive video essay has Heeler-Nicholas discussing the history of home invasion in storytelling, from stage productions to silent films to its evolution in later cinematic works, with the center focus on examples in the French New Extremity. Included are the very early example of "Deadly Games" (1989), plus "High Tension" (2003), "Martyrs" (2008), "Them" and others, as well as thoughts on how "Them" differs from the others. The essay is illustrated with various stills and film clips.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in various ratios, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"The Making of Them" 2006 featurette (26:44)
This vintage featurette from the initial DVD releases includes interviews with the directors and the main cast discussing the making of the film, as well as having behind-the-scenes footage and clips of the finished film. Shown are some of the difficulties such as in tunnels, on set injuries, as well as building the relationships of the characters in the thirty day production. The featurette is almost entirely in French, and the optional English subtitles are strangely placed at the top of the frame rather than at the bottom in a standard form.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1 / 2.35:1 in French/English Dolby Digital 2.0 with burned-in French subtitles for the English portions and optional English subtitles for the French portions

"Clémentine's Ordeal" 2006 featurette (7:15)
Presented here is B-roll footage of Bonamy in the climactic tunnel sequences, plus some shots of the cast and crew in between takes.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1 / 2.35:1 in French/English/Romanian Dolby Digital 2.0 with burned-in French subtitles for the non-French portions and optional English subtitles for the non-English portions

"Police Press Conference with Victim's Sister" 2006 featurette (1:41)
Presented here is fake news footage that was produced to promote the UK theatrical release for the film's official website (which has gone offline) in a Quicktime video (remember those?), with a woman who is said to be Clémentine's sister pleading for information on her missing sister in Romania. Her face is blurred out in the clip (which I believe was how it was originally created), and it does seem a little too fake as Clémentine's sister would have been French but her English is quite good here without a French accent to be hinted. This was also available in the UK DVD release.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.33:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

"Footage Recovered from Original Location" featurette (0:59)
Another official UK site Quicktime video, and also on the UK DVD release with a jump scare clip that doesn't have much to do with the film itself.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, Dolby Digital 2.0 with English text

2006 Interview with composer René-Marc Bini (10:18)
This interview from the original DVD release shows composer René-Marc Bini in the recording sessions, plus his discussion on creating the soundtrack and his reaction to the film itself.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1 / 2.35:1, in French Dolby Digital 2.0 with optional English subtitles

"Horror à la Française" BFI at Home online panel with Anna Bogutskaya, Alexandra West and Dr. Lindsay Hallam (66:47)
This online discussion from 2022 has curator Anna Bogutskaya, "Films of the New French Extremity: Visceral Horror and National Identity" author Alexandra West (who is one of the commentators for the film on this disc) and horror researcher Dr. Lindsay Hallam discuss the New French Extremity movement. They talk about their introduction to the genre, the differences in reactions from domestic and international audiences, the early examples of French horror and the impact of American slasher films and torture-porn, the rebellious and political nature of the features, their recommendations, and much more. Writer Alexandra Heller-Nicholas was scheduled to join but sadly she was ill during the session. Though even without her input there is quite a lot of great things covered in this hour plus discussion. Note that this was also included on Umbrella Entertainment's Blu-ray release of "Martyrs" (2008). The panel has also been embedded below, courtesy of the BFI.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

New French Extremity Trailer Reel for "Inside", "High Tension", "Frontier(s)", "Hidden", "Them", "Livid", "Baise-moi", "Demonlover", "Revenge", "Irreversible", "My Mother", "Twentynine Palms", "The Ordeal", "Raw", "Trouble Every Day", "Sheitan", "Romance", "Fat Girl", "Sombre", "Intimacy" (32:29)
Presented here is a continuous trailer reel of films associated with the New French Extremity movement. Some are the original French language trailers, some are export trailers, and quality really depends on the trailer as well. some of the newer trailers such as "Revenge" and "Raw" look as sharp as can be, but others like "My Mother" look like they came from very low resolution sources. Some of the films are bilingual in English and French, and the French portions are given burned-in English subtitles. Note the same reel can be found on Umbrella Entertainment's Blu-ray release of "Martyrs" (2008).
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in various ratios, in Dolby Digital 2.0 with burned-in English subtitles

The film was released on DVD in various countries, each having some differing extras. It was first released on Blu-ray in 2009 in the UK by Metrodome and France by M6, though both were unfortunately using 25fps masters even though the production was shot in 24fps. (There is also an Italian release by Koch Media from 2009 which we do not have specs for.) It did receive a 1080p 24fps transfer from Noble Entertainment in Sweden the following year, though with only the "Making Of" featurette as the sole extra. The Umbrella Entertainment release is the clear winner here by also having a 1080p transfer plus having the most extras, though note the UK release has some minor text and stills exclusives on their disc.


The disc is packaged in a standard clear keep case with reversible artwork, with the only difference being the Australian MA 15+ rating logos being removed. There is also a limited edition slipcase available at the Umbrella Web Shop with unique artwork by Chris ‘Brutal Posters’ Barnes.

The inlay states region B only but the disc is in fact region ALL. Also it states that the subtitles are standard English, though they are in fact English HoH. In addition it also states the runtime as 74 minutes while it actually runs 76:54.

Also available at the Umbrella Web Shop is a Collector's Edition, limited to 400 copies, which includes a 48 page booklet, a custom art outer rigid slipbox by Johny ‘Smoov Design Co.’ Bekavac, the slipcase mentioned above, 8 replica lobby cards, and an A3 reversible poster. The booklet starts with a short synopsis of the film without spoilers. Next is an undated text interview with Palud and Moreau on the making of the film. The first essay included is "Reality at Play" by Anton Bitel which looks at the themes explored in "Them" and the films that influenced it. The next essay is "Playtime Has a Bodycount" by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas on the film and its themes as well as its stance in the French New Extremity. Finally there is "Them and the Terrifying Anonymity of Hoodie Horror" by John Harrison on comparisons to the film and various others that could fall into this genre. The artcards are printed on thick quality cards, with stills from the film in black and white. These seem to be taken directly from the film itself rather than from on set stills, with each having a digitally grainy look. The double sided poster has new designs on both sides, rather than original designs. One side uses the artwork of the slipcase while the opposite side uses the artwork of the slipbox. The poster fits inside the keep case, and the keep case, artcards, and book fit inside the rigid slipbox comfortably.


"Them" is able to keep the tense nature for the climax and have a shocking outcome, though it can feel a little hollow in terms of substance. The Umbrella Entertainment release has a good transfer of the standard definition material upscaled, with good audio, plenty of extras including some exclusive ones as well. Definitely recommended for fans.

The Film: C+ Video: B Audio: A Extras: A Overall: B


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