First Trailer: Amazon’s New Socio-Terror Anthology ‘Them’
Jordan Peele’s 2017 masterpiece Get Out decisively showed how racial commentary could be contextualized within cinematic horror, to further emphasize its true insidiousness. It was nothing short of eye-opening.
And now a new original Amazon series goes back to 1950s LA to make a similar critique, and adds a significant layer of the supernatural. Being touted as a “Terror Anthology,” Them is from producers Little Marvin and Lena Waithe (the latter of Master of None), and stars Deborah Ayorinde, Ashley Thomas, Alison Pill, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Melody Hurd, and Ryan Kwanten. It takes place during the Great Migration, a five decade (1916 – 1970) exodus of Black peoples from the rural south to the Northeast, West and Midwest. Here, a Black family, the Emorys, becomes the first to move into an all white neighborhood in Los Angeles. The trailer has just been released, and it opens onto a joyful scene, as they enter their new home for the first time, to the comforting sounds of Diana Ross’ ‘Home’:
“When I think of home, I think of a place where there’s love overflowing…”
A real estate agent then assures, “You couldn’t imagine a nicer place to live.”
But surely that’s not the case for everyone. The story is then set in motion when a white women, Betty Wendell, declares fearfully, “This is how it begins – with one family.”
Soon we see the Emory boy being ruthlessly harassed in school, before a horrifying scene of dozens of Black dolls lynched up on the family’s front lawn. Ms. Emory, her eyes wide with defiance, then bluntly declares, “Fuck them.” Things start to get unnervingly eerie, until we see their young daughter just get sucked into a closet by some unexplained force. Mother Emory then seems to go all “Firestarter.”
There’s something very Stepford-y about the overall aesthetic and tone of Them – not surprising, considering the decade in which it is set. But we’ll have to wait until its April 9 premiere, exclusively on Amazon Prime Video, to begin to figure out what it all means. Its socio-political relevance, however, seems obvious.