#31in31 2017 – “Wes Craven Presents: They”

“This is getting ridiculous.”

Story: A guy who had night terrors as a kid kills himself in front of his childhood bestie who’s now a psych grad student. At his funeral, she meets two other twenty-somethings who also used to have night terrors… Except “They” have come back. Oh, and bestie had ’em too way back in the day. But I’m sure she’s got nothing to worry about. Hey WHAT’S IN THE CLOSET???  (Hint: definitely not R. Kelly.)

Scares: A few incredibly effective ones at the start and finish, but it’s typical jump scares for the rest of the film.

Splat factor: Very little. Most is only suggested, and shown in extreme shadow.

Closing scene “shocker”?: It’s a Wes Craven joint. Of course there is.

Remake, Sequel or OG (Original Ghoul)?: Original.

Trick or Treat?: I love Wes Craven, so I wanted to love this movie.  But, I didn’t.  The opening scene is extremely effective, focusing on childhood fears of What’s In The Closet. So is the first half of the climactic subway scene, all rolling blackouts and fear of what’s coming. Pity the rest of the film banks on jump scares and quick cuts.

It’s always fun to see Buffy’s ex-boyfriend Riley (aka Most Boring Season Of BtVS Ever) onscreen. Here he plays yet another clueless, impotently ineffective love interest, trying to help his girlfriend. But y’know, he’d probably have been more helpful if he’d been given more screen time as a caring partner, instead of being saddled with doofus roommates for “comic” relief.

There’s a whole lot of stupid being shared around in this film. There’s a splinter/bone/thing that the chosen victims/characters pull out of the their infected “mark” on their bodies? Why not SAVE IT to show to someone else? Especially when one of the characters is a psychology grad student who should have a brain in her head…evidence, people! I shouldn’t have to tell you this.  But when you’ve got a screenplay that’s as sloppy and uneven as this one is?  I don’t doubt that even the characters gave up after a while.

But the worst thing? No explanation, no mythology, nothing. Used to have night terrors? Got a mark that won’t heal? Sucks to be you. The end. This idea could have really been turned into a fascinating meditation on childhood versus adulthood, and even gone straight-up psychological “are They there or aren’t They?”  But nope. With someone as creative with sleep horrors as Craven (what up Freddy), this tale feels like its bed has been short sheeted. Worse, it feels dull and tired. Yawn.

Score: 2 out of 5 pumpkins.

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