Amazon Prime’s new horror series created by Little Marvin with a team that features "The Chi's" Lena Waithe, ‘Them’ opens with a gloriously horrific, sepia-toned introduction. A woman and her baby were alone in an isolated house when an impeccant old lady walks down the road towards them. She begins singing "Old Black Joe" after mentioning that "we" witnessed the woman's husband left. She smiles when she sees the infant and asks, "Can I hold him?" Is he yours? He's someone I'd like a lot.” It's frightening enough on its own, but the fact that the woman whose kid she's talking about is black adds a historical layer of dread to the experience. In shadows of slavery, babies are taken away from mothers, and therefore the ineluctable vulnerability – even to malevolent supernatural forces – because of having a certain skin color in a country at a certain time instantly comes to mind. The opening scene demonstrates the series’ greatest strength.
The premise involves a Black family stepping into the Los Angeles community of Compton in 1953 -- a period called the Great Migration, as African Americans fled the South – residing in an all-White neighborhood that's brazenly dismayed at their arrival.
"Them" maintains a feeling of dread with eerie music and heavy pictures, however, the gruesome element to what is happening coexists somewhat awkwardly with problems encompassing segregation, corruption, and monetary exploitation.
Juggling that stew of material, the series manages to be exhilarating and awkward and still feel uneven. That is a byproduct, perhaps, of recruiting the limited-series format as opposition to a movie, as the individual episodes move briskly enough however the general story feels stretched in the middle, then rushes in the conclusion.
The actors portraying the Emorys offer wonderful performances, infusing humanity and vulnerability into their shallowly written characters. Their performances are thus excellent, particularly Ayorinde as the fierce mother scuffling with the loss of a toddler, that the audience may overlook the series’ biggest flaw: The majority of the Emorys' actions are in response to ongoing racial attacks. Except for the traumatic event in North Carolina, the audience learns nothing more about the characters’ lives, outside of what the white residents of Compton think about them.
It's comprehensible why horror has become a well-liked genre once it involves examining the injustices of the past. As CNN's Brandon Tensley noted, there is a long history of that on screen, however, "Get Out's" success revived the custom and encouraged studios, with many different examples, like the picture show "Antebellum," within the few years since.
"Them" carves out its place in this time, presenting an unshrinking view of hate and terror, with violence as a brutal consequence. Nonetheless, cyberspace result underscores the challenge of wedding serious reality and horror conventions, in a very method that is intriguing but satisfying.
Them appears to argue that the outright racism perpetuated by the residents of East Compton is a lot more insidious and threatening than the supernatural threat. While Them’s approach involves creating racism a district of supernatural terrors, the blurred lines between real-world and supernatural racism made this season confusing from time to time, with the supernatural components changing into less impactful throughout the series.
Final Score – [7/10]
Reviewed by – Ritika Kispotta
Follow her @KispottaRitika on Twitter (https://twitter.com/KispottaRitika)
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