Thursday, September 20, 2007


Like Open Water and Wolf Creek before it, Ils (Them) is a short, savage little number based on a true story.
In it, a French couple, Clementine Sauveur (Olivia Bonamy) and Lucas Medev (Michael Cohen), recently relocated to Snagov, Romania, are terrorized in their home by unknown assailants.

For anyone who’s read my review of Open Water (reVIEW 23; see Archive: September 2007), you may very well come to the conclusion that these sort of films don’t particularly float my boat. These are the sort of films that, even as the end credits begin to roll, I nearly always find myself asking, Well, what was the point of it all?
Here, the assailants are portrayed decidedly as Other, since the narrative’s focus is locked onto Clementine and Lucas. And since the film covers only the event itself—the aftermath limited to short blocks of text before the end credits—we don’t really get to delve into the motivations, the “why” of it.
So the film’s end-all, be-all is the tension engendered by the action onscreen. This is, perhaps, its point: to make our pulses quicken and keep us on the edge of our seats. (And on occasion, get us to jump out of those aforementioned seats.)
And if this is Ils’ point, it’s raison d’etre, then its existence is justified.

The film itself is a tense little bugger, and the credit for that achievement should go to co-directors David Moreau and Xavier Palud. It’s because of this skilled handling of the narrative’s suspense that I found this a better cinematic experience than either Open Water or Wolf Creek.
In addition, the fact that the next project of Moreau and Palud is the upcoming English-language remake of Khon Hen Phi (The Eye), gives me a healthy sense of anticipation for it. And yes, I am aware that Jessica Alba headlines the redux, so for me to actually say I have “a healthy sense of anticipation” for The Eye should say volumes about just how impressed I was by Moreau and Palud’s achievement on Ils. (I’m also extremely grateful that Parker Posey and Alessandro Nivola are in The Eye, so I can at least be assured I’ll be seeing some good acting.)
With The Eye, Moreau and Palud will have more of an actual plot at their disposal, and I’m curious to see how they handle a story (as opposed to the situation presented in Ils).

In the meantime though, what we ultimately have in Ils is a sobering and unnerving thrillride. After all, as with Open Water and Wolf Creek, this is the dramatized version of an actual event, with the fates of real people up on the screen for us to see.
As I said in my Open Water review, this sort of material isn’t “entertainment” in my books. To witness actual persons in this sort of context seems somehow wrong for me.
If, however, you’re up for this sort of horror, then Ils is definitely your ticket.

(Ils DVD cover art courtesy of; Them OS courtesy of

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