They Live in the Grey
they live in the grey | abel vang | burlee vang | michelle krusiec | ken kirby | madelyn grace | haunting | haunted | ghost | ghosts | thriller | united states | j.r. cacia | ellen wroe | mercedes manning | willie s. hosea | audrey moore | jaden tran | cami storm
Film: They Live in the Grey
Directors: Abel Vang and Burlee Vang
Writers: Abel Vang and Burlee Vang
Starring: Michelle Krusiec, Ken Kirby and Madelyn Grace
This is a movie that went on my radar as one of the earlier 2022 horror films. I knew this one went to Shudder and that this featured an Asian star and it made me wonder if we’d get lore from a different country. Aside from that, I didn’t know much else.
Synopsis: Claire (Michelle Krusiec), while investigating a child abuse case, discovers that the family is being tormented by a supernatural entity.
There is a bleak start to this movie. We’re in a house that looks lived in. We hear odd sounds and it shifts over to someone trying to kill themselves. The rope snaps, dropping them to the ground. It then shifts us over to our lead, Claire. She is married to Peter (Ken Kirby), but they’re estranged. Through different things, we learn that they had a son by the name of Lucas (Jaden Tran). He passed away and they haven’t gotten over it. I’ll point out here that Claire is a social worker with Child Protective Services and Peter is a police officer.
We then shift over to Claire in court. The judge is ruling that a mother will no longer have custody of her child and Claire tries to sway his decision. The only way that she can is to recant her statements. She cannot do this though. We see things are a bit tense with her boss due to this.
What I want to interject here is that Claire is different. She is clairvoyant and sees ghosts. She didn’t reveal this to her husband so he has no idea. It makes her life more difficult. There is a spooky scene with her and Steve (Ian Stanley), a ghost she meets in her dining room. This is just the start.
The crux of this movie is that Claire is assigned to the case with Sophie Lang (Madelyn Grace). She has a cut on her cheek and bruises when she first meets the girl. Sophie lives with her father, Giles (J.R. Cacia), and mother, Audrey (Ellen Wroe). Through an interview with the girl, Sophie reveals that her stories of where the injuries came from are lies. It isn’t from her parents though either. The house is haunted and a ghost is doing them. Claire experiences it as well. This complicates things with her job to where she wants to give up the case. When Sophie’s principal contacts CSP again, Claire tries to do what she can to keep this family together and save them from this supernatural entity. Her own life with get in the way and dark secrets are revealed.
That is where I’ll leave my recap as well as fleshing out our key characters. Where I want to start is that I was on board in the beginning for what this movie was doing. It hooked me with the attempted suicide and seeing the awkward interaction between Claire and Peter. Then seeing her in court and her first interaction with a ghost. I wasn’t sure if that was who Steve was, but it does well in establishing that. I give credit to this movie. It jumped right in, got my attention and then got us to the main problem we are exploring. It is an interesting dilemma for sure.
I do feel that I need to shift over to an issue I had here though. This movie is too long to the point where I lost interest. I had to rewind a couple of scenes to make sure I didn’t miss anything as my mind was wandering. This runs over two hours and it doesn’t need to be. I honestly think there is fifteen to thirty minutes that could be trimmed to make this run tighter. Even with removing that, I think you still have enough to establish the Yang and the Lang families while the tension ramps up. With how it is, the movie just became boring unfortunately.
With that taken care of, I want to go over to the implications here. Now for a brief time, I collaborated with social workers. Not necessarily like we get here, but similar enough. This is a job that is rewarding when good things happening but draining when you must do tough things. I like that it is set up that Claire has a good heart. Losing her child makes her want to help other mothers. There is the idea though of doing your job, even if you don’t necessarily agree. It is a moral dilemma. She goes over and above to help the Lang family. This raises the stakes and it worked for me. It also requires Claire to come to terms with her loss in the process. Despite all this that they did well, there is a reveal at the end that didn’t necessarily need to be there. It felt like the movie though it needed to be edgier and do something to shock us. I can understand the route taken by the character though.
The last bit here that I wanted to go into would be Claire and her loss. Throughout the movie, we see Peter trying to reconcile with her. It made me think that he did something, but it turns out that she is harboring the guilt. She is pushing him away in the process. Neither are to blame. I won’t go farther than that. We see how both handle this in different ways. We see that he still cares and I think she does as well. She just can’t forgive herself. I’ve not experienced what they have, so I can’t connect. I’ve been in relationships that have fallen apart though. I see that they still can make it work which invests me.
I’ll then go to the acting. I thought that Krusiec does a good job as Claire. She fits the role and I believe her performance. I also connect with her and seeing how broken she is as I’ve also dealt with depression in the past. There is an unbearable weight on her shoulders that she isn’t ready to remove. We see that as the movie goes. Kirby is good as her husband. I feel bad for him having been in a similar spot as him with where he stands. Grace is solid as the daughter. I like Cacia and Wroe as her parents. Mercedes Manning, Stanley and the rest of the ghosts are good. I’ll be honest, there are some creepy things with them that we get. That worked for me. Overall, I’d say the acting was solid across the board.
To end this out, I’ll go over the filmmaking aspects. I think that the cinematography is good. This movie is shot well. We do some good things with the camera angles. I like how scenes will change when Claire is dealing with the ghosts. That adds an interesting element for me. I would say that the effects were fine. The practical effects were good to the point where at least one made me cringe. I give credit for that. There is some CGI though that wasn’t so good unfortunately. That hurt it slightly. Other than that, I’d say that the soundtrack was fine. It didn’t necessarily stand out, but I do think they did some solid things with the sound design that I will credit.
In conclusion, this movie does interesting things. We get something that we’ve seen before with mixing haunting with social work. It makes for predicament that adds tension. I’d say that acting is solid as were the filmmaking aspects like the cinematography and effects. The title also has interesting concept in that ghosts are living in limbo like Claire is with her life. There was some CGI that didn’t work for me. This movie is too long as well. I think that fifteen to thirty minutes could be trimmed to make this run tighter. With how it stands, I still enjoyed this movie and what it did. This is just over average for me. Tweaks to things and we could have had something here.
My Rating: 6 out of 10