The agreement includes the inclusion of a black family in Compton’s Los Angeles community in 1953 – a period known as the Great Migration, as African Americans fled south – taking up residence in an all-white neighborhood that Openly agrees upon his arrival.
Leaving the crowd behind is Betty (Alison Pill), whose inner turmoil reflects the presence of her outward Stepford wife, smiling through her teeth at the suggestion that women “should leave the boys.”
“That’s how it starts. How it changes. With a family,” she says.
For that family, Dad, Henry Emory (Ashley Thomas), has a good job as an engineer, but needs to swallow a steady diet of racism from his condescending boss. Henry’s wife, Lucky (Deborah Iorinde), brings with her a terrible past from North Carolina, a grim stanza that will eventually reveal the grueling (very frightening, possibly, for some) detail, explaining the impulse behind the move Happened.
And neither of his young daughters, effectively played by martyr Wright Joseph and Emily Hurd, spared the episode as progress, a mix of supernatural flourish with more worldly horrors.
“Them” maintains a sense of awe with gruesome music and disturbing images, but colleagues are having some strange ways with issues of isolation, corruption and financial exploitation.
Given that mixture of ingredients, the series manages to be bracing and uncomfortable and still feel uneven. It is unproductive, perhaps, to employ a limited-series format as opposed to a film as the individual episodes run well enough (many run less than 40 minutes), but the overall storyline feels stretched in between. Is, then run on it is finished.
Central is great for artists, and there are plenty of nifty period beats, such as Henry buying a black-and-white TV and sitting down to watch “Father Knows Best,” the perfect symbol of the carefree ’50s suburb is.
“Them” occupies that continuity, with violence as a continuation, presenting an incomplete view of hatred and fear. Yet the net effect underscores the reality of marriage and the challenge of horror conventions, in a way that is intriguing but not entirely satisfying.
“Them” premieres on Amazon on April 9.