Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Most people grow out of their fear of the dark. Others don't. They is for them.

When Billy was six, he had "night terrors." His mother told him he was too old to come into her bed. "I'll leave the door open a crack," she said. "Daddy and I will be downstairs." It didn't make any difference. They came for him and marked him.

Nineteen years later, he called his childhood friend Julia (Laura Regan). He sounded funny - funny sick. She was about to make love with her boyfriend Paul (Marc Blucas), but instinct told her that Billy (Jon Abrahams) was in trouble and so went to the all-night diner to meet him. It was raining. It's always raining at moments like these.

She hadn't seen him for a long time and hardly recognised him. He raved like an idiot, telling her about studying the creatures for years and how they hated the light and were coming to get him. She asked, what creatures? But he didn't listen. As a graduate student of psychology, she recognised the ramblings of a paranoid schizophrenic. He knew he sounded crazy. He wanted to reach her, that's all. He wanted to warn her.

Slowly, as the film progresses, Julia realises that the night terrors she suffered as a girl were the same as Billy's and what happened to him could happen to her. She meets two of his friends (Ethan Embry, Dogma Dominczyc), who shared similar experiences. They talk of the light being their only defence. Paul is so straight and normal, by comparison. She feels distanced from him. The others are touched - she, also. Touched by fear? Another consciousness?

This is a superior horror flick. If it wasn't, the boogy-man-in-the-cupboard concept would bring back memories of Monsters, Inc. Robert (The Hitcher) Harmon directs first-time writer Brendan Hood's clever script with admirable constraint and the cast contributes performances of genuine commitment. Although locked into a mould, where parallel universes exist, like alien lifeforms, John Carpenter-style shocks are avoided. There is subtlety here and a running tension.

The weakness lies with "they". The story works on every level, but the so-called creatures are baffling. Why do they need contact? If their intelligence is so advanced, why do they appear as extinct primates from a prehistoric age? What is it about the light? What is it about the dark? Do they live in a sea of molasses because they find the consistency comforting?

Perhaps, they aren't there and this is a film about madness.

Reviewed on: 31 Oct 2002
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A psychology student is stalked by night creatures that want to drag her back into their parallel universe.
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Director: Robert Harmon

Writer: Brendan Hood

Starring: Laura Regan, Marc Blucas, Ethan Embry, Dagmara Dominczyc, Jon Abrahams

Year: 2002

Runtime: 89 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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