Updated: Apr 30, 2021
Starring: Deborah Ayorinde, Ashley Thomas, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Melody Hurd, Alison Pill, Pat Healy, Derek Phillips, PJ Byrne
Creator: Little Marvin
Streaming: Amazon Prime Video
Review: Klep Napier
Rating: 3.5X’s out 5X’s
The trailer may have thrown some skeptics off, pegging this a carbon copy of a Jordan Peele offering, but this anthological series created by Little Marvin and Executive Produced by Lenna Waithe, psychologically disturbs, with intent to leave you emotionally distraught.
“Them” follows a black family who moves from North Carolina to get a fresh start in a new home planted in the center of what once was a white suburb known East Compton California. Set in the 1950s, during the period known as The Great Migration. The family's idyllic home becomes ground zero where devilish neighbors, next door and otherworldly entities within their home, threaten to taunt, ravage and destroy them.
At first sight this thing just feels like another period peace about how whites did blacks wrong during the 1950’s. It’s 100% racially charged and unapologetically right in your face. But the real fun doesn’t take very long to get started in episode one. The Eerie yet melodic soundtrack is completely familiar and on the nose with every situation. This keeps you actively engaged throughout understanding the tone of each pivotal moment.
One of the more memorable moments include the performance of Alison Pill (Scott Pilgrim vs The World) who’s bigoted portrayal of nosey yet cocky neighbor Betty Wendell, is not only fist clenching but Pill is the right amount of conflict that motivates you to cheer on the protagonist of the story. If she doesn’t get you blood boiling within the first 15min, then maybe you should look deep within your own morals.
But like I said the series is much more than a period peace about yesteryear. There are much darker forces at hand that play as subconscious role around each character. Are things real or only figments of their psyche. The series explores a type of inner thinking that is required in order to move forward through the entire season. So if you’re looking for a cheap thrill ride you can laze your way through, this isn’t it. You could most certainly get lost along the way, so pay attention.
Major turn offs of the series would have to be how real it actually gets or doesn’t get I should say. The series explores a time in which hate, bigotry and violence were prevalent, and they do not hold anything back. A lot of the series is just down right guy wrenching and heartbreaking. We get it, even Archie Bunker told us “Those Were The Days” that doesn’t make reiterating it for our entertainment any easier. So please we beg that you watch these episodes with caution. Especially towards the final episodes which even have a disclaimer attached.
But overall “Them” leaves an impressive mark in the genre of horror television and film. We just hope that these racially charged and psychologically themed thrillers stay fresh and do not continue to all feel like Jordan Peele redos. But so far “Them” expresses itself playing with racial tension and paranoia in a way that’s bolder than its predecessors, with a believable cast and mind trio of a story. So, so far they seem to be on the right track.
Them hits Amazon Prime Video April 9th!
For a more in depth conversation about THEM check out our very own Klep Napier below!