ChildCare Action Project (CAP): Christian Analysis of American Culture


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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to our youth through you,
their parents and grandparents, in His name by His Word

Wes Craven Presents: They (2002), PG-13
Analysis Date: November 30, 2002
CAP Score: 40
CAP Influence Density: 1.37

MinMax: -88

They (2002) CAP Mini-thermometers

ALERT: To fully understand this report you should first visit the topics suggested by the CAP Site Map (Table of Contents).

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NOTE: If you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is completely objective to His Word and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie.


If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.

WES CRAVEN PRESENTS: THEY (PG-13) -- with a final score of 40, it is definitely an "R-13"

Production: Good Machine, Radar Pictures Inc.
Distribution: Dimension Films, Miramax Films
Director(s): Robert Harmon
Producer(s): Tony Blain, Tom Engelman, Ted Field, Barbara Kelly (IV), Scott Kroopf, David Linde, John Mariella
Written by/Screenplay: Brendan Hood
Cinematography/Camera: René Ohashi
Music: Elia Cmiral
Film Editing: Chris Peppe
Casting: Anya Colloff, Sean Cossey, Jennifer Fishman, Amy McIntyre Britt
Production Design: Douglas Higgins
Art Direction: Patrick Banister

Bogeymen! There's one! I think. Just beyond the beginning of total darkness! Just across the border of visible. Turn out the light and the edge of the unseen comes closer to you. And so do They! They can see you but you cannot see them except maybe when one dares to venture into the dim shadows to get under your bed. Or maybe when a flicker of light invades their space a glimpse of one of them just might be possible. Seething just beyond the light. In the closet. Under the bed. In the corners. The faint bubble of light from your nightstand will protect you only so long! Quickly they get hungry and bold. In the darkness they wait ... seething ... waiting ... waiting with single-minded fixation for the moment when you are in total darkness. Only an instant of total darkness will do. They can hear you but you cannot hear them except after midnight. Then you might hear a scamper or two as They go bump in the night. But sometimes... There!! Did you see that one? Just then! Over there! Julia Lund (Laura Regan) did.

The story opens with young Billy, a lad of about 8 years old, screaming to his mother They were going to get him. With all the assurances his mother could muster, Billy was still certain they were there and were going to get him. And he was right. Billy did all the things to protect himself, even one his mother said would protect him. That is to keep one's head covered. Under the covers with a flashlight that slowly grows dim, Billy's curiosity forces him to venture out from under the covers to peek over the edge of his bed. Snatch! They got him! And dragged him under his bed. Billy was right.

Julia's father committed suicide when she was Billy's age. For a long time, Julia suffered from night terrors evidently sparked by the trauma of her father's suicide. As an adult, Julia began the trek to become - what else - an abnormal psychologist. The trauma that fueled the night terrorists has long since been conquered, or so she thinks. Julia unknowingly shared her nighttime bogeymen terrors with a few other children who had also been victims of the night terrors as children. All of them had one thing in common.

Billy reenters Julia's life with questions about those night terrors that they had as children, wondering whether They were coming back, whether the bogeymen were coming back to get them. So deep were Billy's terrors that his every word was saturated in fear and anxiety. Words about how when They are coming the electricity flickers and other inexplicable things happen. Terrible things. Horrible things. Things so terrible and horrible that he could live this way ... BOOM. Billy sent a .38 caliber slug through his brain.

Further traumatized by a second suicide in her life, Julia seeks counsel from a cohort in abnormal psychology from her childhood. But these are real bogeymen. They are not chased away by rational thought and reasoning. They come and go as they please. Now they are back. And so say two more of Billy's friends. They share a common history of night terrors but they each bear a unique mark, an injury from some sort of impalement and each looks the same as the other. No one but a night terror victim has them. Each mark oozes and drips and never heals. Why do they never heal? So the bogeymen can identify their victims and come back to slither in more terror.

Helping Julia through it all is boyfriend paramedic Paul. A medic, huh? I can relate to that. But not in the way he relates to Julia. Sexually. Repeatedly. Not married. Sure he's a nice guy. But sexual immorality is sin whether a nice guy or not [Mark 7:21]. Whether you believe it or not. We don't write the rules. God does.

This is a "They Scream on Elm Street XXXVIII" flick. A standard bogeymen story with an assortment of the usual trappings plus some new trappings. "New" as in new to this genre added by the new age of sinema. Some sex and vulgarities plus foul language on a canvas of scare-ology [Ps. 12:8]. And with a final score of 40, it is definitely an "R-13" . Graphic terror sequences. Lies to a child about nighttime fears. Intercourse with nudity. Stripping for sex. Licking kissing with all the sound effects. Woman on a man in bed. Cohabitation. [Rev. 21:8, Gal. 5:19] Suicide with a handgun [Exod. 20:13]. Drunkenness [Gal. 5:21]. And more. See the listing in the Findings/Scoring section for a itemization of all finings made.


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ]. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.

  • Mark 7:21 For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality,...
  • Rev. 21:8 But the [unforgiven] fearful [cowardly], and unbelieving, and the abominable [vile], and murderers, and whoremongers [sexually immoral]...
  • Gal. 5:19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
  • Exod. 20:13 You shall not murder. [Suicide is murder of the self.]
  • Gal. 5:21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, pay for it, enjoy it, want it]. [I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 (KJV) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Jude 4 For certain men* whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change [warp, distort, falsely represent] the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [or for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto [or for] me.
  • Luke 17:2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. [cause by teaching or example]
  • Ps. 119:133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.

    They (2002) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
  • terror sequence with abduction of a child
  • other terror sequences, repeatedly
  • explosive startles
  • imagery of grotesque twisting of hands into a pretzeled mess
  • flash appearance of a dead man speaking
  • near fatal traffic incident
  • daughter speaking of stabbing her father in the eye
  • attacks and abductions by the unseen
  • entrapment sequence
  • grabbing by the unseen
  • assaults by evil creatures
  • attack by many creatures
  • many creatures crawling over a female victim

    Impudence/Hate (I)(1):
  • five uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • a single use of the most foul of the foul words
  • lies to a child to quell nighttime fears

    Sex/Homosexuality (S):
  • excessive cleavage
  • licking kissing with sounds
  • stripping for sex
  • woman on man in bed
  • flash nudity
  • adult in underwear
  • stripping again for sex
  • man inspecting woman's skin of whole body in underwear
  • brief nudity
  • intercourse with nude woman atop a nude man

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • drinking, repeatedly
  • drunkenness, repeatedly
  • smoking, repeatedly
  • drug abuse

    Offense to God (O)(2):
  • images of unholy presence
  • premonition
  • 6 uses of God's name in vain but without the four letter expletive

    Murder/Suicide (M)(3):
  • suicide by gunfire

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    NOTE: The CAP Analysis Model makes no scoring allowances for trumped-up "messages" to excuse or for manufacturing of justification for aberrant behavior or imagery, or for camouflaging such ignominy with "redeeming" programming. Disguising sinful behavior in a theme plot does not excuse the sinful behavior of either the one who is drawing pleasure or example from the sinful display or the practitioners demonstrating the sinful behavior. This is NOT a movie review service. It is a movie analysis service to parents and grandparents to tell them the truth about movies using the Truth.

    "There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our nearly seven years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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    (1) As noted in CAP Special Report-001, "Investigation Area and Scoring Trend," of the six CAP Investigation Areas, Impudence/Hate was the strongest presence in all four movie classifications. It has a strong revelation about the entertainment media.

    (2) The use of the three/four letter word vocabulary without God's name in vain is incorporated into the Impudence/Hate Investigation Area. The use of God's name with or without the four letter expletive is incorporated into the Offense to God Investigation Area. There is no duplication.

    (3) Only portrayal of successful murder or suicide are incorporated into Murder/Suicide. Portrayal of attempts to commit murder or suicide and deaths by police action or war are incorporated into Wanton Violence/Crime.

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