Stephen King is in the headlines as much these days for his streaming recommendations as he is for his actual writing, and the latest such endorsement to make its way onto his Twitter feed is the first season of horror anthology Them.
Amazon Prime Video: THEM, starting tomorrow. The first episode scared the hell out of me, and I’m hard to scare. Bonus: If you’ve never seen a bunch of extremely creepy white ladies in 50s dresses, here’s your chance.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) April 9, 2021
The series, not to be confused with the glorious cheesy ‘50s creature feature Them!, sees an African-American family relocate from North Carolina to a picturesque picket-fence Los Angeles suburb populated entirely by middle class white people. Although the move is intended as an escape from the Jim Crow South and the beginning of a new chapter in their lives, their neighbors see their arrival as the start of an invasion, and engage in an escalating campaign of targeted harassment to drive them away. And that’s before you even get started on the supernatural forces that might also be tormenting them, as well as encroaching madness brought on by both.
Although some of the marketing material disingenuously attempts to draw comparisons to Jordan Peele’s sophomore feature Us (least of all from Shahadi Wright Joseph featuring in both), such duplicity is unnecessary as the series is suitably unsettling to be sought out on its own merit. That said, it does share DNA with Peele’s work by using horror to chronicle how the lives of black people in America have been shaped by the casual bigotry they’re forced to endure for the chance of being afforded a sliver of the common decency their white contemporaries take for granted as their right. Its portrayal of weaponized overt racism is horrific to watch, and serves as a reminder of how contemptuous things were mere decades ago, and to an unacceptable extent still are.
Them is far from the first recommendation Stephen King has made on Twitter, with not all of them ultimately bearing fruit, but it’s well worth a watch if you like your horror topical and unnerving.