How do you give hostage or criminal thriller films like In Bruges or The Town a newer feel? Give the movie a ghostly, psychological subplot like in Kevin James Barry’s film, Among Them. Among Them already has the thrills that come with a getaway, criminal movie of robbers and their even worse compatriates, but it adds mental instability to the mix, causing its characters to second guess their sanity in an already harrowing situation.
They may be able to get away from the crime, but they cannot escape the terrifyingly real hallucinations turning them against each other, and themselves. In the beginning, I found myself checking the time a lot, it had felt like the movie had already gone on for a while and that had a lot to do with the initial pacing. Thankfully, Among Them, found its groove at the midpoint, unleashing flashes of shadowy figures, and splices of gruesome imagery. It is not gory, but Mr. Barry does have the characters play with blood a lot, which, along with the psychologically thrilling aspects of the movie, make this crime drama a scarier watch than even some horror films.
Two criminals — Keith (Jonathan Thomson) and Mick (Dan Liebman) — set out to rob a bank with their friend, who is tragically shot dead in the process. They soon find themselves on the run, with their boss missing in action to get them their getaway tickets. Trading their friend for an unwanted hostage, Syd (Evalena Marie), the three hold up in a seedy sea-side motel during a snowy winter. Without passports, tickets, and with their money eventually stolen, the trio slowly begins to lose their grip on reality. When the visions start to become more violent and seemingly real, they band together to try to escape their fevered nightmare.
The descent into madness happens so ever so slightly that it becomes believable to the audience, a sign of smart storytelling in a good script. Using unnerving sound mixing and musical score and doing smart blocking that made a small room feel big by having “creepy thin guy” type characters appear from out nowhere, Kevin James Barry builds an atmosphere rife with anticipation for the next scare. For a film where half of it takes place mostly within one small hotel room occupied by three people, it didn’t feel uncomfortably claustrophobic.
Instead of hitting you over the head with a blunt object, director Kevin James Barry, instead, sticks a hundred needles into you over the course of the film, until in the end, you are just as emotionally spent as the characters, having watched them descend in and out of madness so many times. Among Them‘s end is surprisingly artsy for a psycho action crime thriller, and actually, it is a bit of an existential head-scratcher — I suppose it is open to interpretation, but it just adds another layer of psychological mind-effery for the characters and for the audience. I liked how this crime movie had some interesting and unexpected layers, and it ended up being an aesthetically and narratively pleasing watch.
MOVIE RATING — 7 out of 10 ☠️