Claire, while investigating a child abuse case, discovered that the family is being tormented by a supernatural entity.

Editing: Cole Duran
David Williams

Cast:  Michelle Krusiece, Ken Kirby, Madelyn Grace, Audrey Moore, Mercedes Manning, Bernard Bullen

Directors: Abel Vang, Burlee Vang
Writers: Abel Vang, Burlee Vang
Cinematography: Jimmy Jung Lu

When Shudder announced that they’d secured the rights to publish They Live in The Grey, there was an interesting quote from directors, The Vang Brothers, about how often horror movies with Asian leads are foreign films. They were making a film in the U.S, and it was an Asian-American narrative. I’d never really thought about that before, but it is a statement that’s very true. This film breaks many stereotypes while unfortunately resting upon many you’d expect to find in the ghost story genre. 

Claire (Michelle Krusiec), a social worker, is assigned the case of Sophie (Madelyn Grace), who has turned up to school bruised more than a few too many times to be a coincidence. When Claire meets the parents, they seem distant, but she’s not sure if they’re the cause of their daughter’s pain when she begins to experience signs of supernatural events inside the house. 

Although seeded in this serious theme of family abuse, the primary narrative is never as engaging as what’s introduced and teased about Claire’s past. Early in the film, we learn that her son died not too long ago, and her relationship with his father, and her partner, has been on ice since then as the trauma has driven a big divide between them. But most interestingly, Claire sees ghosts every night in her home and has had to build a bed in a small room as the only place she finds safe from the spirits who visit her house. These reasons allow her to have an open mind about what’s happening to Sophie, but it’s also a case and subject that she doesn’t want to touch. While Claire attempts to be a solid and reason-minded person in the day, it’s evident that what’s happening to her at night following her son’s death affects her beyond what anyone else can see. 

Whether or not the ghosts are real, or the trauma inflected upon Claire affects her judgment is left up in the air for a majority of the film. But while there is a mystery to what’s happening to Sophie in her home, what was happening to Claire, and what happened to her son are the most intriguing threads presented in the film. 

They Live in the Grey almost drowns in its serious tone with no levity given at any stage. And although Michelle Krusiec does a great job at playing this hurt mother, there’s only one scene in which she attempts to break through to Sophie that we see a side of her beyond being surrounded beyond the darkness. 

Thematically, They Live in The Grey touches challenging subject matter, and there are plenty of interesting elements to be found here, but I found the film losing my attention consistently. What’s here is short film material, stretched thin, without the attention to detail or characters to fulfil the feature runtime.