They (2002 film)

They (also known as Wes Craven Presents: They) is a 2002 American supernatural horror film directed by Robert Harmon and starring Laura Regan, Ethan Embry, Dagmara Dominczyk, Jay Brazeau, and Marc Blucas. The plot is centred on a group of four adults experiencing night terrors and attempting to deal with the fallout from their prior childhood experiences. The film was produced by Ted Field and Tom Engleman; Wes Craven served as executive producer.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Harmon
Produced by
Written byBrendan Hood
Music byElia Cmiral
CinematographyRene Ohashi
Distributed byDimension Films[1]
Release date
  • November 27, 2002 (2002-11-27)[1]
Running time
90 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States[1]
Budget$17 million[2]
Box office$16.1 million[2]


In 1983, a young boy named Billy Parks (Alexander Gould) is frightened and has difficulty falling asleep after waking up from a nightmare. His mother Mary (Desiree Zurowski) assures him the monster he thinks is in the closet is imaginary. As he tries to fall asleep again, a dark apparition emerges from his closet and spirits him away.

In present-day 2002, the plot focuses on a Psychology grad student named Julia Lund (Laura Regan) and the events that turned her life upside down. As a child, she experienced horrifying night terrors that manifested after witnessing her father commit suicide but has seemingly overcome the problem. She reunites with a childhood friend, a now grown-up Billy (Jon Abrahams). In the diner, Billy is constantly startled by the flickering lights, as he is now deathly afraid of the dark. He tells her that he believes their night terrors are caused by something otherworldly, as he was kidnapped by mysterious creatures as a child and went missing for two days. He warns her to stay out of the dark before shooting himself.

Julia stays over at her paramedic boyfriend Paul Loomis' (Marc Blucas) apartment for comfort and to grieve. That night, Julia hears the shower running and investigates to find a mysterious black fluid erupting from the sink drain, and the bathroom mirror opening to reveal an alternate dimension filled with mysterious creatures. Paul hears her screams and comes to her aid only to find her alone. He suggests that she might have been sleepwalking, since she does not remember what happened.

At his funeral, Julia consoles Billy's parents and meets up with two of his friends and roommates, Terry Alba (Dagmara Dominczyk) and Sam Burnside (Ethan Embry), who slowly begin to believe his claims, as they also experienced night terrors as children and suspect they are returning. Offended by Sam's careless comments, Julia visits Billy's childhood room and discovers his drawer filled with batteries. Terry shows up and apologizes for Sam's insensitivity and informs her that Billy used to talk a lot about Julia and his experiences with night terrors, and why he was obsessed with staying out of the dark.

As Julia is driving in the middle of nowhere, an unknown creature sprints across the windshield as the car mysteriously stops. After she manages to fix the issue, she is startled by a vision of Billy and stumbles onto the road only to nearly get hit by an oncoming truck. Julia visits Paul's apartment for comfort only to discover him drunk with his friends Troy (Mark Hildreth) and Darren (Jonathan Cherry). She leaves in disgust.

At Terry and Sam's apartment, the trio study Billy's diary. Terry and Sam ask Julia if she has experienced any return of the night terrors, which she denies. Terry explains her night terrors started when she was 5 years old, after witnessing her sister drown in a lake where her family would spend their summers. In one instance, she disappeared from her bedroom and returned in the dog house, and as her father reached in to get her, she stabbed him in the eye with a kitchen knife, as she was convinced he was some kind of demon.

Julia is at first skeptical but slowly starts to believe in her friends' stories after meeting a little girl named Sarah (Jodelle Micah Ferland), one of Dr. Booth's (Jay Brazeau) patients who also suffers from night terrors which started after her mother's untimely death. Sarah claims "They" are going to eat her in her horrible nightmares, and the only thing that keeps them away is lights. She then starts picking at a strange mark on her arm, a similar mark that also appeared on Billy's hand, Sam's shoulder, and Terry's ankle. Terry and Sam are soon taken by the creatures.

Julia finally believes the stories when she discovers the mark left by "They" on her forehead and pulls out a long black needle. She runs to Paul's apartment in fear. Paul, now convinced that Julia is insane, drugs her drink with a sleeping pill and attempts to call Dr. Booth. Realizing he drugged her, she runs to the subway station to vomit the sleeping pill out, only to get trapped in the station as the closing gates lock her in.

Trapped, she is forced to ride a train home and is the only passenger. The train's lights start to flicker, and the vehicle stops completely. She gets off and sees all the light bulbs burst in the train tunnel before the creatures assault her. Julia manages to escape and is finally discovered by a group of engineers who attempt to help her, only for Julia to violently assault them with shards of glass, convinced they are not human.

She is committed to Dr. Booth's mental institution, where she is attacked once more and transported into the separate dimension she previously saw, only this time inside of a closet. She screams for help to Dr. Booth and an orderly, neither of whom can see her. Dr. Booth closes the door, and the creatures drag Julia away.



The initial script featured godlike, organic machines who used humans for spare parts. This was rewritten from scratch by the producers.[3] They was Radar's first film production.[4]


Dimension purchased the distribution rights after footage was shown in England.[4] They received its US premiere on November 27, 2002. In its opening weekend They grossed about $5.1 million. The film grossed $12.8 million in the US and $3.3 million overseas, making for a total worldwide gross of $16.1 million.[2]

Home media

The film was released on DVD on June 10, 2003.[5] The film received its Blu-ray release on September 11, 2012, in a double feature with another Wes Craven film, Cursed.

Deleted scenes

There were scenes that were filmed but excluded from the final cut; the first two are available on the Japanese DVD and include:

  • After Julia sees Sarah's mark on her arm she leaves Dr. Booth's waiting room with him walking in to find her gone. Julia is seen at a hardware store purchasing lighting supplies afterwards. The cashier asks her if she is going camping but she does not respond.
  • Julia is seen packing in her bedroom to prepare for Billy's funeral while Paul makes her breakfast. The two then share an intimate moment before she leaves for the funeral.
  • After Julia pulls out the splinter from her gash she runs over to Sam's apartment as he is being attacked by "They", after calling out his name a few times more Sam's corpse is thrown through a window and lands on top of her, a monster on his back growls at Julia as it pulls his corpse into the shadows.

These deleted scenes were all included in the Blu-ray release of the film.

Alternate endings

Two alternate endings were shot but neither of them made it to the final cut, they include:

  • After the incident in the subway the film's plot cuts to nine months later where Julia is shown hospitalized in a mental institution. Julia manages to convince a panel of psychiatrists including Dr. Booth that she has regained her sanity. She then sees one of the creatures climb through an air shaft in the ceiling but continues to deny their existence. She is finally released and proceeds to set up high powered lights all over her apartment room. The camera then pulls out of her bedroom as she is seen sitting on her bed. A door creaks open in her darkened hall and the film cuts to black. (This ending was shown to test audiences which was deleted and re-filmed after test audiences responded negatively to the ending, for some reason this ending is unavailable in any DVD.)
  • Julia wakes up in the mental hospital and sees that all the people in her story − Dr. Booth, Sam, Billy, Terry - are patients in the mental hospital and her boyfriend Paul is a doctor working there. The doors to Julia's room then break open and one of "them" enters and seemingly attacks her until it is realized that it was all a delusion fabricated by Julia's mind and she had been suffering from Schizophrenia throughout the whole movie. (Some versions of the DVD and all Blu-ray versions have this ending available.)

Alternate opening

An alternate opening shown to test audiences featured a flashback of young Julia sleeping instead of a flashback of Billy. This opening was scrapped for some reason and is unavailable on any DVD.

Critical response

They holds a 38% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 56 reviews; the average rating is 4.2/10. The site's consensus states: "They fails to sustain the level of creepiness necessary to rise above other movies in the horror genre."[6] On a 0-100 scale, Metacritic assigns They a 31 based on 16 reviews, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[7]

A. O. Scott of The New York Times wrote of the film: "Though you may share [the characters]' skepticism about the reality of those nightmare creatures, and occasionally twitch with impatience at the movie's clumsy dialogue and haphazard logic, you may also find yourself thoroughly terrified. I confess I was relieved when the movie ended and the lights came back on."[8] Jamie Russell of the BBC awarded the film four out of five stars, writing: "None of it is likely to make this into the year's best horror movie, but as far as scaring the pants off you for an hour and a half, They will do that. And more."[9] Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian wrote that the film "This entertaining scary movie isn't overly burdened with originality, but it's an enjoyable watch with some nicely creepy moments."[10]

Writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, Mick Lasalle wrote: "Perhaps [executive producer] Craven was attracted by the metaphor of monsters and mental illness, but the metaphor is old, and director Robert Harmon does nothing to make it seem new again. Or perhaps Craven was just captivated by the movie's last and best scene, which is spooky enough to make They almost worth seeing."[11]

See also


  1. "They (2002)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved January 5, 2018.
  2. "Wes Craven Presents: They". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 5, 2018.
  3. "The Arrow interviews...Brendan Hood!". Retrieved January 5, 2018.
  4. Harris, Dana; Dawtrey, Adam (October 25, 2001). "Dimension nabs 'They'". Variety. Retrieved January 5, 2018.
  5. Tyner, Adam (June 1, 2003). "Wes Craven Presents They". DVD Talk. Retrieved January 5, 2018.
  6. "They (2002)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 5, 2018.
  7. "They (2002)". Metacritic. Retrieved January 5, 2018.
  8. Scott, A. O. (November 28, 2002). "FILM REVIEW; For the Scariest Monsters, A Little Glimpse'll Do Ya". The New York Times. Retrieved April 23, 2018.
  9. Russell, Jamie (October 29, 2002). "Films - review - They". BBC. Retrieved April 23, 2018.
  10. Bradshaw, Peter. "They". The Guardian. Retrieved April 23, 2018.
  11. LaSalle, Mick (November 29, 2002). "'They' aren't Craven enough". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 23, 2018.
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