Monday, September 24, 2007

Ils (2006)

Retitled Them for American audiences, this is basically a French version of the movie Vacancy from earlier this year, a short (77 minutes) exercise in menace in which a young couple is threatened by mostly unseen invaders out in the middle of nowhere (in this case, Romania). As with Vacancy, the movie is fairly hollow; it gives us a bland couple to be audience surrogates and proceeds to chase them around a big empty estate, into the attic and out to the woods, and then it ends. Very little dialogue, not a lot of 'content' or substance per se. Vacancy was more of a Hollywood production, with slightly more interesting characters (Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson start the movie bickering incessantly, which doesn't make them likeable but it does make them amusing) and a greater degree of craft, especially in terms of carefully composed shots and sound design. For all that, though, the rawness of Ils - shot on raw, muddy, handheld HD - was more satisfying to me, more immediate without the comfort level that a high level of craft transmits to a horror movie. It's a stripped-down roller coaster ride of a movie and it works well enough on that level.


Planocenital said...

Ils was awful to me. Ok, it's a roller coaster, but what does a roller coaster has to do with the art of movies?

Jeff McMahon said...

North by Northwest is a roller coaster. So are Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Wages of Fear, The French Connection, and Star Wars.

I'm not claiming this is a great movie, just that it succeeds at its own very modest goals.