They Live in the Grey follows a clairvoyant/child protective services investigator gets involved in a case in which it appears an entity is creating the signs of abuse on a child.
[This movie was viewed via Shudder at the time of this review.]
They Live in the Grey Review
When you're reviewing movies with frequency, you are bound to come across a lot of garbage. And we've reviewed a lot of that here. And while said reviews have not shown a favorable light on many of these films, rarely do they make me angry. They Live in the Grey was as close to making me angry as...well...I can't recall. And no, it's not because it's the worst film I've seen in 10 years, but the issues are so glaring and irritating, I had to do this review just to get the thoughts out of my head.
Firstly, this film is basically a rip-off of The Sixth Sense. The scares, apparitions, and the lead's handling of her "I see dead people" situation (which she comes soooo close to saying in one scene...) is all not only familiar but almost an infringement of copyright. But everything this film tries to do well, The Sixth Sense did far better.
The scares, makeup and effects fall somewhere on the spectrum between tacky and horrible, using CG for the weakest of effects, all the way down to placing CG blood on hands, clothes and faces. The scares rely almost exclusively on extravagant, blaring music numbers that simply get old and predictable, and they're all placed throughout the movie in a rhythmic pattern that begins to feel like a pointless slog through the unnecessarily long runtime of 2 hours. And while I am exaggerating, I do feel like there so many close-up shots of the lead's reaction to spirits that they could have saved us all 10 or 15 minutes of our lives cutting those out.
But that alone couldn't have saved this film. It's completely unoriginal, the twist is identifiable before the halfway mark, and it loses what magic it was building within 15 minutes of the runtime. It is a well-produced film beyond the effects work, but this only makes the errors blatant and horrible. I was pulled in initially by favorable reviews and a promising opening scene, but after that it falls apart into a derivative plot with methodical, cookie-cutter scares.
But horror is of course not solely about its scares, but the main plot of the abused child and the subplot of the protagonist's loss of her own child are both, as mentioned, completely unoriginal, taking away any power they may have. The plot often felt like it was copy and pasting scenes from other movies, then copying and pasting those same scenes within the film to fill the runtime...which it didn't need to do since it was already an unnecessary 2 hours.
Unoriginality is one of the greatest sins in cinema, but even that I can turn a blind eye to if it's entertaining. But this is definitely not that. There was an attempt, and a legitimate one, but I'd rather rewatch The Sixth Sense than this.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 8/10
Horror Quality: 5/10
Film Quality: 4/10