As with all horror movies, Them (or Ils in itsnative tongue), is based upon horrifyingly true events. Although a French/Romanian made movie, the actual events happened in The Czech Republic where a couple was vacationing in the country before being brutally murdered.
The film carries a lot of the similar attributes that The Strangers fed upon. Prank calls, power cutting, stealing the car, and unwanted visitors silently stalking you through the house; all games played by the cat and mouse horror clichés.
The thing that makes "Ils" stand out amongst the rest is that it is actually extremely creepy. Almost entirely handheld, the style is very patient and unnerving. Although the music is there, the director doesn't use it as a tool for fear. There are no climatic crescendos with a JUMP at the end and no early warning cues for disaster. The low hums and swells of the score simply play subtle intimate tones for the mood of the story.
Another different and effective perspective was how the filmmakers portrayed the villains. You never see them until the very end of the movie. Prior, they are just shifting shadows or a chasing flash light. Their eerie screams, clicks, and whistles make you second guess how humanoid these figures actually are.
The filmmakers also took a deliberate stance in showing the movie through the perspective of the victims. What they know... you know. Not being able to see these hooded figures drove me to the edge of madness. I could feel hints of the fear and frustration that haunted our characters which is definitely the goal of the story.
The cinematography obviously took what I call, a European approach. Long slow takes, a grainy dreary realistic style, and the goal of bringing you into the environment. No stylistic fancy smancy effects or camera moves. Just a steady and unstable view for the hip.
For three quarters of the movie I was uncomfortably on edge and nervous. The strange noises and the unsettling pitter patter of unwanted feet moving throughout the house made me ponder what I would do in these situations. I fumbled through the ideas and strategies I would take and honestly couldn't decide. Maybe that's why these movies work so well. The characters are trapped and cornered in their own homes. Everything that was once considered safe has now been violated and you are left with nothing but your primortial need to survive.
I would definitely says this is head over hills better than The Strangers and definitely more than an average thrill ride. Although I felt the ending lose its fear factor, it definitely didn't leave me wanting more.