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'Them' taps another vein of horror in the Black experience of the 1950s

April 8, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 45%. 1 min read.

THEM

"Them" inadvertently serves as a reminder of how deftly Jordan Peele threaded the needle of social commentary and horror with "Get Out," and how elusive that target can be. Comparisons are inevitable to Peele's films and HBO's "Lovecraft Country," but this 10-part Amazon anthology series proves provocative and bingeable while taking some questionable detours en route to its ultimate destination.

(CNN)"Them" inadvertently serves as a reminder of how deftly Jordan Peele threaded the needle of social commentary and horror with "Get Out," and how elusive that target can be.

Comparisons are inevitable to Peele's films and HBO's "Lovecraft Country," but this 10-part Amazon anthology series proves provocative and bingeable while taking some questionable detours en route to its ultimate destination.

Peele (who's also a producer on "Lovecraft") found a creatively rich vein in using the conventions of horror to depict the horrors of racism, in the HBO show bloodily straining that through a historical filter.

Designed as a stand-alone season a la FX's "American Horror Story," the ambitious narrative also leaves behind a few conspicuous loose ends.

The premise involves a Black family moving into the Los Angeles community of Compton in 1953 -- a period known as the Great Migration, as African Americans fled the South -- taking up residence in an all-White neighborhood that is openly aghast at their arrival.

As for that family, the dad, Henry Emory (Ashley Thomas), has a good job as an engineer, but one that requires swallowing a steady diet of racism from his condescending boss.

That's a byproduct, perhaps, of employing the limited-series format as opposed to a movie, as the individual episodes move briskly enough (several run less than 40 minutes), but the overall story feels stretched out in the middle, then rushed at the end.

It's understandable why horror has become a popular genre when it comes to examining the injustices of the past.

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