The latest horror anthology series to hit our small screens comes courtesy of Amazon Prime Video, with the basis of exploring terror in America. In a similar vein to Jordan Peele’s films Get Out and Us, along with Misha Green’s Lovecraft Country, this ten-part show mixes horrific supernatural horror with a biting commentary on racism across the pond. While this features a number of vitally important messages, Them is certainly one of the most tense and difficult shows I’ve watched in a long time – buckle up for a jumpy ride.
Created by Little Marvin and executive produced by Lena Waithe, season one of Them follows the Emory family in the 1950s. The African-American family move from North Carolina to the all-white neighbourhood of East Compton, California during The Great Migration, but receive a less than warm welcome as they arrive at their new home. Along with facing racial abuse and physical threats from neighbours and co-workers, the house is also a hive for deadly supernatural forces who seek to turn the family against each other.
Incorporating a balance of haunted house elements and the real-life horror of racism, similar to Lovecraft Country’s third episode “Holy Ghost”, Them unravels as an unnerving and at times uneven watch. Arriving at a manicured neighbourhood complete with Stepford wives and blue-collar husbands, there’s an instant uneasiness to the location. Alison Pill’s cruel Betty Wendell is the main driver behind the unrelenting attempts to chase the family away, in order to keep the neighbourhood a pristine all-white paradise. But the verbal and physical attacks don’t stop there, as both children experience it at school while Henry (Ashley Thomas) is subjected to discrimination at his engineering job. In one particularly heartbreaking scene, eldest daughter Ruby (Shahadi Wright Joseph) is met by a whole classroom of kids grunting at her and yet she’s the one who receives the detention slip, not her bullies.
This is a fantastically produced show with a number of standout performances, but at times it was just too much to watch. I genuinely had to take breaks from the show as it was such a hard-hitting and relentless narrative, featuring all too claustrophobic scenes which often shift into brutal violence and torture. At times the real-life racism