Real-life is scary. We’re harassed, harangued, maligned, imitated, and infiltrated. Time and again we flip those feelings into art, and the world marvels at our resilience in the face of THEIR oppression. Ain’t that something?
With that in mind, Amazon’s ‘THEM’ arrives today with lofty expectations. It’s a chilling, slow-burning Horror with a capital H about a family that integrates a white Compton enclave. It’s co-produced by Little Marvin and Lena Waithe and comes in the wake of other beloved prestige Black-helmed thrillers on streaming services.
What sets this show apart is the Wilhelm scream beneath the surface. There’s an all-encompassing unease, a dread they’re able to capture through breathtaking cinematography and taut performances from this stellar cast.
Shahadi Wright Joseph is particularly strong as Ruby Emory, the older of two daughters, whose wry, expressive face and full commitment to the moment lifts every scene she’s in.
‘It can be like you as an actor are taking the stress from your character, which is not fair to you, you know? It’s not fair!,’ said Joseph.
Deborah Ayorinde is phenomenal as the matriarch, a woman teetering on the edge while desperate to protect her family from both the insidious and plainly-seen terrors of her new neighborhood.
‘The way all these neighborhoods are kind of setup is not by accident, and I hope that people see that and it starts a much-needed conversation,’ said Ayorinde.
I talked with the cast about growing up Black, living in the moment, and the state of Black TV.
Them premieres on Amazon on April 9.