2002 film ‘They’ explores night terrors

They (2002) was directed by Robert Harmon, known for directing the original The Hitcher film from 1986. While They is no The Hitcher, the film is reasonably well-shot and provides some minor scares, despite being unimaginative and predictable. They is presented by Wes Craven.

They tells the story of four young adults who suffered “night terrors” as children. The central character Julia Lund (Laura Regan) seems to have a great life, busy with graduate studies in psychology and maintaining a healthy relationship with her boyfriend, when she receives a call from her childhood friend Billy Parks.

She meets Billy in a diner, where he attempts to explain his belief that all of the bad dreams they had as children were in fact true and that a mysterious dark force is ruining his life. Billy then apologizes and shoots himself in the head, unable to continue living in fear and paranoia.

'They' (2002) film poster.

‘They’ (2002) film poster.

Scarred by Billy’s suicide, Julia meets two of Billy’s friends at his funeral. They discover that they all experienced night terrors as children and they are beginning to experience them again. When strange occurrences begin to multiply, and the remaining three begin to develop mysterious bloody wounds, they begin to question if the night terrors they experienced as children may have been in fact real.

Billy’s diary seems to hold some of the answers, but will they be able to decipher his paranoid writings and put a stop to the dark forces that plague them?

They is not a horrible film, but it just didn’t grab me as being very original. The ending doesn’t offer any kind of resolution, either, leaving it entirely unclear what the night terrors actually are. They seem to be some kind of monsters, but that’s about all we learn. We learn nothing more about who experiences them and why or any other information.

They does succeed somewhat in portraying the mysterious evil forces at play, usually signaled by electrical appliances shorting out, lightning, thunder and other phenomena. Building suspense indirectly with these types of devices does not seem easy, and I think They did an admirable job, much like entries in the Final Destination series.

Brendan Hood is credited with writing They, although the final filmed version apparently does not resemble his original script at all. It’s hard to say if his original script would have for a better film. Regardless, I finished They feeling indifferent and kind of wanting the lost time back. But there are of course many worse films out there. Do yourself a favor and watch The Hitcher instead.

They can be purchased as part of the Masters of Terror, Vol. 1 collection, or it can be rented here.

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