ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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They (2002)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Robert Harmon

Starring:
Laura Regan/Julia
Marc Blucas/Paul
Ethan Embry/Sam
Dagmara Dominczyk/Terry
PLOT-CRUNCH
Following a tragedy, a major hottie, who’s also a major in psychology (Regan) is plagued by the returning “night terrors” that used to ruin her sleep when she was a tiny tot. Get the flashlight...it’s monster time!
THE LOWDOWN
Arrow note: "I blamed screenwriter Brendan Hood in my review for this film's shortcomings, but after speaking to the man in this interview...everything was cleared up. Please read my interview and learn more about this yourself."

Arrow note: "I blamed screenwriter Brendan Hood in my review for this film's shortcomings, but after speaking to the man in this interview...everything was cleared up. Please read my interview and learn more about this yourself."

Do not celebrate the Wes Craven tag on this movie, horror fans, because he’s not even listed as executive producer in the credits and had "jack all" to do with the film. He basically just whored his name out here, much like a strung out slut giving sloppy head for chump change. Why? I guess Craven needed some extra coin for his imminent Christmas shopping (did all the "Scream" money run out already???) and the marketing geniuses at Dimension likely thought that his name would fool the masses into believing that “They” was a Craven film. The name that we should celebrate is Robert Harmon, he’s the director that put out one of my favorite films of all time, “The Hitcher” and this is his first theatrical return to the genre that turned him into a semi “cult figure”.

“They” starts off on the right jab by addressing an issue to which we can all relate: fear of the dark. We were all perturbed by our closet doors being opened while we slept as children, and wondered what kind of evil shite lurked under our beds (I was sure Mr. Rogers and his shoe-swapping tendencies we’re out to get me). The film often plugged into that theme effectively (the opening scene rocked) and the fear factor was often cranked up a few notches by Harmon’s classy approach to this cinematic nightmare. The man paints a spook-inducing picture and much to my surprise, thankfully handled his creatures in a subtle fashion. We don’t see much of the beasties in this game and that got my brain juices flowing, creating a terrifying concoction that no special effect could’ve rivaled.

So what’s the hole in this condom? Well, unfortunately the film’s script by Brendan Hood is not as smart or layered as it should’ve been, and "They" just doesn't live up to its potential. There’s nothing and I mean NOTHING original going on here. I smelled strong whiffs of Elm Street all over this bloody map. The dialogue is also uneven, going from clever to clumsy. But my biggest beef with the flick is that the happenings (i.e. the story) resting between the well-executed scare set pieces never really took off. The middle block of the picture was simply way too talky to be 100% captivating and the storyline threaded the same ground over and over and over again, never being smart enough to capitalize on its more interesting aspects or gutsy enough to take them to the next level. Now I didn’t mind not getting any background info on the monsters, that gave me the chance to come up with my own twisted theories, but on the sharp side of the machete, since the script never addressed anything at a satisfying length, the narrative eventually went flatter than a 3-day old open bottle of “Pepsi”. Monsters come to get you when it’s dark, I got that 20 minutes into the film…I get it! GIVE ME SOMETHING MORE TO PLAY WITH FOR THE LOVE OF BALLSY HORROR!

On a character level, apart from the superb lead in the guise of “Arrow Approved” blonde sizzler Julia (Reagan), most of the players were “whatever” stick figures. Some had victim stamped on their foreheads in big red letters, others were solely there to act as plot devices. The boyfriend character (Blucas), in particular, wound up being freaking useless. Why was his lovey-dovey thang with Julia emphasized early on in the film? Why was he dropped for the bulk of the movie? I don’t think the script knows either. To add insult to insult, the typical dumbass horror flick moves also came into play and mucho clashed with the mature aura for which the film seemed to be aiming. If the creatures only come out in the dark, why the hell is everybody and their uncle’s sister’s boyfriend’s farm animal going out of their way to explore those dark corners fervently? COME ON! USE YOUR HEAD! In their shoes, I would’ve strapped myself to a running tanning bed and called it a life.

When the end credits rolled, I felt half erect about this sugar doll. With a more experienced screenwriter behind it “They” could’ve been so much more than just see-through horror fluff. It’s a shame really; apart from the story, every other important horror spice was in the soup. I have to admit that I was still somewhat "into" the movie throughout, due to the strong lead female (who helped keep me engaged when the story went downhill), the many chilling scenarios (loved the pool bit), the multitude of “10 inches off your seat” scares (were they going for the “boo scares” Guinness Book of Records?) and the gnarly final frames that whooped ass.

Let’s just shut the lights and die already!
GORE
Not much going on in this department: we get some icky bruises, a shard being pulled out of one’s head and brief glimpses of ugly creatures.
ACTING
Laura Regan (Julia) hits all the right notes and carries the film like a cute blonde champ with talent. I predict big things for her if she picks the right projects. Marc Blucas (Paul) does what he can with the occasional shoddy dialogue he’s given and has fun with the thinly written role. Ethan Embry (Sam) is ok as the “fuck you” type dude, not much of a part. Dagmara Dominczyk (Terry) is yummy looking and her speaking intonation actually turned me on.
DIRECTING
Harmon does well here; he knows how to build up a scene while putting out a delicious horror atmosphere through blue lighting, lots of flash, kool angles and a creepy use of sound. Good job...too bad the script wasn’t up to par.
SOUNDTRACK
An adequate and sometimes eerie score. We also get random background pop/rock tunes.
BOTTOM LINE
“They” aims higher than the norm, going for a more “adult” type of horror flick, but the ho-hum script just can’t back it all up. The needed intelligence, substance and uniqueness just wasn’t there. What we’re left with is a hot dame, slick directing, some kool fear scenes and lots of boo scares. You can do better, you do worse. I say hit it on video when the social life is on a stand-still or when the girlfriend is not around because she’s cheating on ya with the local drug dealer.
BULL'S EYE
I saw both the UK and North American cuts of this film. The UK Cut had a different ending and an extra scene.

SPOILERS: In the UK Cut, Julia lives and is released from the mental hospital where she proceeds to go back home and enter her room which is filled with a multitude of bright lights. The UK cut also has Julia witnessing Max’s demise at the elevator shaft. END SPOILERS

This movie was shot in Vancouver BC with a $ 17 Million budget.

Laura Regan also stars in the promising looking thriller “My Little Eye”.

The “Wes Craven” moniker only appears at the end credits. His name is nowhere to be found in the opening title sequence.
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