They Live (1988) [review]

This is not a shallow film which just wants to offer the audience a fun hour and a half. This is very much a film that has something to say, something which is just as valid today as the year it was released. How people treat one another, how some struggle to live, how we are told how to think, how to behave.

With our main character trying to make his way through life on any job he can find, he finds himself in a unusual situation which would normally be unexplainable, but one which must be dealt with. Not only in fighting the evil that is, but convincing those around him of what is going on.

I very much liked what this film had to say on society, something which I’m not sure we’d find too often in a film made these days. This film covers something which I hope that anybody watching will take notice of and appreciate. But, while thinking about what is being said here, it is also a film which will take you on a journey which we feel for the everyday people we see, we want them to triumph against those who oppose and control that which we think of as freedom of thought.

John Carpenter knew how to pace this film, not making it a fast paced film, we get to know the characters and what they stand for. Letting them breath, commenting on where they stand, we get to see them grow and change over the course of the hour and a half, as they have to deal and come to terms with what is happening to them and those around them.

We see characters who are willing to stand up for what they feel is right, while there are those who are willing to sell themselves for a an easy life, never caring that they are being repressed by some other power.

This is a film that is from the hard working, working class as they try to survive on what they have, not taking anything for granted, while they see the rich getting richer.

At only an hour and a half, this film does not outstay its welcome; there is no unnecessary padding, no scenes which give nothing to the story. The film slowly builds to an ending which does not force its opinions on the audience, leaving us to feel and think as we come to our own morality and personal way of being.

As I’ve already said, this is a film that requires the viewer to think, not to dismiss it as another film to watch and forget as the credits roll.

This is another of John Carpenter’s films in which he and Alan Howarth created another excellent score which I very much liked. Something which integrates into the moments and scenes nicely.


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