Is Them: The Scare Based on a True Story?

In ‘Them: The Scare,’ the second installment of Amazon Prime Video’s 2021 spine-tingling horror anthology series ‘Them,’ creator Little Marvin transports audiences to the gritty streets of 1991 Los Angeles. Here, we meet LAPD Homicide Detective Dawn Reeve, a pioneering black woman in law enforcement who finds herself confronting the aftermath of a particularly grisly crime. Tasked with unraveling the mystery surrounding the murder of a foster mother, Reeve navigates a city on edge, its simmering tensions threatening to boil over at any moment.

Yet, as she digs deeper into the shadows, the elusive truth remains frustratingly out of reach. As Detective Reeve inches closer to the evasive killer, a sinister and inexplicable force begins to cast its shadow over her mother and son. Given the historical significance and the realism of the first season, it is only natural for viewers to be inquisitive about whether ‘Them: The Scare’ carries any link to real life.

Them: The Scare is Packed With Historical Elements

‘Them: The Scare’ is not based on any true story, but it draws inspiration from the historical backdrop of 1990s Los Angeles, particularly the tumultuous period for the African-American community. The season is set just a year before the infamous LA Riots, also known as the Rodney King riots. The riots erupted in the aftermath of the acquittal of four LAPD officers involved in the brutal beating of Rodney King, an African American man. The crime was captured on video and widely broadcast. The verdict sparked outrage and ignited long-simmering tensions between the city’s black community and law enforcement.

From April 29 to May 4 in the year 1992, Los Angeles descended into chaos as rioters looted stores, set fires, and clashed with police. The season delves into the social and cultural tensions of the era, exploring themes of racial injustice and systemic oppression as the story begins just days after the tape is released. The season also shines a light on the rampant sexism pervasive in society during the 1990s. As a black woman operating in a workspace that is predominantly white male, Detective Reeve’s experiences and challenges stand as a reminder of institutionalized racism and sexism.

In an interview, Little Marvin revealed that his decision to set the season in the early 90s was driven by its historical significance and obsession with the era. Growing up then, he was captivated by the pop culture, music, and fashion that defined the period. This nostalgia and cultural influence inspired him to transport viewers back to that tumultuous yet culturally rich time, allowing them to immerse themselves in the sights and sounds that shaped his formative years. When talking about other inspirations that helped him make the season, he said, “Se7en. Se7en is the high-water mark and a constant perpetual influence. Obviously, that movie and Silence of the Lambs are hugely influential.”

The creator added, “I was obsessed with those as a kid, these characters that managed to mix a certain type of iconography, gallows humor, and relentless terror that I found so inspiring. If you think about Freddy Kreuger and his claw, or Jason Voorhees and the mask, Mike Myers, and even Chucky and his overalls, I love the iconography of those characters. I pulled a lot of inspiration from the supernatural serial killers and serial killer movies from the 90s.” Realism penetrates the fabric of ‘Them: The Scare’ through various characters, with Detective Reeve’s mother, Athena, as a poignant example.

Athena’s presence in the narrative extends beyond mere storytelling; she embodies a pivotal era of social change as a participant in the civil rights movement. Pam Grier, who essays the role, expressed a profound connection to Athena, feeling like the character mirrored her experiences and political beliefs. Marvin emphasized that while ‘Them: The Scare’ is not a docu-drama, it is “a drama that pulls from history.” The production team dedicated extensive research to ensure the story’s authenticity. Despite its fictional premise, this approach imbued the series with veracity. Although the central storyline is not rooted in reality, it is constructed from recreations of significant historical moments whose echoes reverberate through contemporary society.

Read More: Them The Scare: Where Was Season 2 Filmed?