it at Amazon!
plot in a nutshell
The boogie man comes at night - we all know that. And for kids with
the most extreme form of nightmares, often called 'night terrors', he does
more than stop by for a little late night chit chat. 'They' mark the
children, and come back for them as adults.
Such is the fate of our
heroine, Julia Lund. As a child, she and her best friend Billy were
plagued by night terrors, and now almost 20 years later, they're back.
But what do 'they' want?
Spoiler Free Thoughts
All movies borrow from classic stories, books and other films. It's
impossible not to, but occasionally there's a film that takes so much from
others that it becomes nothing more than a montage of clips.
Unfortunately for Wes Craven, that's what 'They' turns out to be.
the main character, is played by Laura Regan. I thought I recognized
her, so I did a quick IMDB search. It showed she was the young version
of Audrey in Unbreakable. I was surprised that Star Wars Attack of the
Clones was NOT on her resume, since I was positive she had played Taun
We. This woman has the longest neck I have ever seen, and her small
shoulders and even smaller head do nothing to shake the impression that her
mother had an unnatural relationship with a giraffe. It's never a good
sign when a horror film can't get you past marveling at the length of an
will most likely recognize two other actors from the film, Marc Blucas who
plays her boyfriend, and Jon Abrahams who plays her friend from childhood,
Billy. Blucas spent a year dealing with the manic depressive nature of
Buffy Sommers, while Abrahams spent last year dealing with the manic
depressive nature of high school students, teachers and administrators on
Boston Public. For the trivia buffs, the scary looking little boy who
plays Billy in the flashback sequences also is the voice of Nemo in the new
Finding Nemo film from Pixar.
acting isn't bad, but they are given little to nothing to work with.
Other than Julia, we get little character development, and very little
reason to care. On top of that, there are several scenes that are
clearly meant to imply that Julia is not stable, but the film never really
touches on that possibility or makes it clear. The alternate ending
that's on the DVD makes far more sense of the film and the plot, and goes a
long way to explaining why such a tangled mess made it to the screen.
It's pretty obvious that the alternate ending was the one they had planned
for, shot for, and edited for - and then got dumped. While the final
ending is interesting, it doesn't make any real sense in the context of the
rest of the movie.
effects are fine, but many of the scenes borrow so heavily from other films
that it actually gets annoying. When Terry, another young woman
suffering the same problems as Julia, removes the grill from the vent in her
loft, sticks her whole upper body inside (damn big vents), it was pretty
obvious they just had to fit a scene from Alien in. Sure enough, she
can't get that lighter to quite work...I could almost hear Veronica
Cartwright screaming at her to get out.
so we had weird phone calls, a basement that looked an awful lot like
Freddy's furnace room, beasties afraid of the light, and sputtering light
bulbs galore. What we didn't have was any real plot or sensible
story. A great story can make up for many other sins, but great
effects and decent acting can't make up for a silly mess like this.
Rating - Skip It
die hard fans of horror will find little in this film to interest
them. The alternate ending is certainly more interesting and unique
that the one folks saw in the theater, but that doesn't do much to make up
for the lack of character or plot development. I don't expect a movie to spell things
out in big letters on a billboard with flashing lights, but there needs to
at least be a reason for the actions of the characters. Here, we get a
good idea for a short story turned into a full length film, and it's just
too thin to carry the time. There's a few startling moments strung
together with what might have been intended to be story, but there's no
payoff in the end.
Spoiler Laden Thoughts
There are a couple plot
points I'd like to mention, and they are definitely spoilers if you haven't
watched the film.
movie opens a lot of doors, and never gets around to shutting any of
them. For example, why do 'they' come only to children with night
terrors? Why don't they like the light? Of course, if they have
control over electricity, not liking the light isn't much of a problem, is
do they not take the children until they are adults? And what were
they doing with her at the end? Billy said they would be 'eaten', but
it looked like Hell to me. Did he mean they were soul eaters?
And what was with the splinter in the mark? If they needed it to find
them, why could they find her without it?
this isn't really Craven's fault, because I think he was making the film
with the intention of using the alternate ending. For those that
haven't seen the DVD yet, but have seen the movie, the alternate ending
shows that Julia was committed at 16, and all that's happened really is part
of a psychosis. There are no beasties, and the other characters -
Billy, Terry, the psychiatrist - are all patients at a hospital with
her. Her boyfriend is in reality a doctor at that hospital, and the
entire thing is in her mind.
resolution to the film makes far more sense out of what comes before.
At the beginning there's a mention by her mother on the phone to be sure
she's taking her medication, and when she shows up with Blucas all in a
tizzy, he tries to make a phone call without her knowledge. These
little clues point to the alternate ending, but with the standard
monster-in-the-closet ending that replaced it, none of it makes sense.
her trapped in some sort of Hell, about to be eaten, or just perhaps about
to become one of 'they', might be more visually interesting, but the
alternate ending would have improved the overall film. When it's all
just in somebody's head, it doesn't have to make any sense. I'm
guessing test audiences didn't like it though - they rarely like being taken
in like that, particularly when they find out there's nothing as creepy
other than reality.