Moving house is, it has to be said, one of the most gruelling pains in the arse that human beings knowingly submit themselves to. Unpacking, moving furniture, trying to find that one box with the thingo in it – absolute bloody nightmare. How much worse is it then for an African American family, the Emorys, as they move into the (then) all-white neighbourhood of Compton? In 19-freaking-53!
Such is the premise of racially charged horror yarn, Them (not to be confused with the 1950s giant ant flick of the same name), a Jordan Peele-esque allegorical genre work that is, at times, shockingly effective.
Not only do the Emorys have to deal with racism and bigotry at the hands of their pasty neighbours, they also have to face a supernatural threat that appears to have taken a liking to their family of four.
Them is, at times, hard work for those not ready for an intense ride. The unrelenting sense of dismay and eeriness rarely lets up and moments of light are few. The performances are uniformly excellent – particularly from leads Deborah Ayorinde and Ashley Thomas – but it’s about as subtle as a swift kick to the goolies. And perhaps that’s okay, what we’re dealing with here is a story entrenched in exploring hideous social dynamics that occurred not all that long ago. Still, it’s not an easy watch.
The episodes are stylish and beautifully executed, with some sequences that will stick with you (an occurrence in episode four is still haunting your humble word janitor) and even though there’s an undeniable love of melodrama, it rarely becomes overwrought or unintentionally camp.
Them is, quite simply, a weaponised anxiety machine primed to deliver effective, if occasionally samey, bleak chills over ten episodes. For horror fans who like their genre yarns dripping with social commentary, and genuinely disturbing horror, Them is a worthy destination for those with the constitution to handle it.