They (2002)
Main cast: Laura Regan (Julia), Marc Blucas (Paul), Ethan Embry (Sam), Jon Abrahams (Billy), and Dagmara Dominczyk (Terry)
Director: Robert Harmon

Thanks to the success of movies like The Ring that manage to combine atmosphere with chilling effects without going too philosophical, horror movies are getting less gory and more subtle. I don't know if that's good or bad, if movies like They are to herald this new renaissance.

Sure, creepy is good, but creepy as an excuse to cut down budget on effects by just switching on and off the lights and having the heroine Julia scream non-stop? That's not good. They is so intent on delivering the chills that it forgets that its heroine is so unlikeable that I am actually rooting for her death.

In this movie, people with some special wounds will find their phobias and traumas literally coming out to scare them to death. Or maybe it's the stumpy monsters with rubbery hands that killed them. I don't know. The haphazard camera seems to be handled by someone who is experiencing an epileptic seizure, and the movie's tendency to switch off the lights and have someone flash a torchlight at Laura Regan's mouth as she screams and screams - so annoying, I tell you. Julia, a psychology student working on her masters thesis, starts experiencing all these scary stuff (she is scared of the dark) after her mentally unstable childhood friend Billy shot himself before her. When other similarly traumatized friends start going missing, Julia will realize that her own life may be in jeopardy.

Her boyfriend Paul is no help. Now, I enjoy looking at Marc Blucas a lot, but his role here is basically another Buffy The Vampire Slayer's Riley - a supportive and nice boyfriend whose girlfriend takes him for granted and then gets mad at him when he dares have fun and get drunk with his friends. Julia is so self absorbed and takes everyone around her for granted (she never have time for anyone else but whines when they do things without her) that I really can't empathize with her going mad.

Or is she going mad? There's a possibility that it's due to some strange implant in her scalp, or is it just a piece of a hairband that silly girl stabbed into her head one day without knowing it (that explains her zombie act)? I don't know. I get a big headache trying to get through the heroine's ear-splitting screams and the way the lights go on and off just to create some chaos they mistakenly believe as "scary atmosphere" - my head hurts too much to care.

But I don't mind having a boyfriend like Paul though. Riley - hmmm Riley. Bland but 100% supportive and all that, mmm Riley.

Anyway, the only scary about this movie is that walking skeletal scarecrow playing the lead actress trying to shatter glasses everywhere.

Rating: 56

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