DVD/Blu Ray

They Live in the Grey (18) |Home Ents Review

Dir. The Vang Brothers, US, 2022, 124 mins

Cast: Michelle Krusiec, Ken Kirby, Madelyn Grace, Ellen Wroe

Review by Colin Dibben

They Live in the Grey is a pretty unusual supernatural horror film that has a big emotional impact. It is unusual for both formal and narrative reasons, using quiet, long shots and staying serious throughout as well as providing a twist that grounds the story in reality.

Social worker Claire (Krusiec) specialises in children at risk. Her own son died in such tragic circumstances that it destroyed her relationship with her husband, Edward (Kirby). She’s still coming to terms with her grief when Sophie’s case lands on her desk.

Claire quickly becomes convinced that Sophie’s “domestic injuries” are caused by a supernatural entity rather than her highly strung parents. Claire has insight into such things as she is clairvoyant, something she has to keep hidden from her colleagues and Edward.

Can she save Sophie and what price will she pay?

There are a couple of plot holes here – for example, Claire’s son died because of her but she has kept her job. But who cares? The film has a difference to it that shines forth. It isn’t so much refreshingly different as melancholically different.

Abel and Burlee Vang use those moody long shots that you see in streaming series. They use them all the time here, which probably accounts for the longer-than-usual running time. Of course, in a movie there is no long-form narrative to tell and so the technique has a weird effect: it is very brooding and immersive and works really well, as a change from the usual hysterical editing of shots.

It also puts all events on the same psychologically charged level – you may jump when the ghost appears but she seems very much part of Claire’s inner landscape.

We’re getting used to horror films attempting to be serious but They Live in the Grey (the grey world of grief, as Edward says at one stage) oozes that overwhelming monotone pretty well, at a formal level if not always at the level of performances.

The two couples who face off over the child are pretty well drawn and differentiated. They just don’t come across as particularly interesting characters. But grief and other emotional disturbances will do that to you.


They Live in the Grey is out on DVD and digital from 26 September 2022.