“They/Them” is a horror movie about LGBTQ+ campers undergoing “conversion therapy.” It could have been a good movie, but it fails. The writing is not good enough, and the actors’ performances are not enough to compensate. In short, if you want to see a great horror movie, “Bodies Bodies Bodies” is a much better option. Nevertheless, if you still want to be tempted, here is everything you need to know about “They/Them.”
“They/Them” is a movie that follows a group of campers at a “conversion therapy” camp. The campers are all LGBTQ+, and they expect the counselors to try to change them.
However, the counselors unexpectedly accept their status as LGBTQ+ individuals, which does not fail to unsettle many of the campers, especially Jordan.
From the moment they arrive, it’s clear that something is wrong at the camp, and Jordan’s suspicions are only heightened when a serial killer begins to stalk the grounds.
Kevin Bacon (X: First Class, JFK) did an excellent job portraying the villain Owen Whistler, the director of the conversion camp. Whistler is the kind of person who smiles and tells his victims he’s acting in their best interest. In short, he's the guy you hate the second you meet him. The movie does a great job of showing Whistler as a manipulative monster, and it’s hard not to feel anger and disgust towards him as he ruthlessly exploits and abuses his patients.
He is joined by a group of advisors who seem to follow him as the leader of a cult, including Cora and Molly, played by Carrie Preston (The Good Wife) and Anna Chlumsky (Veep, My Girl), respectively.
As for the LGBTQ+ characters, transgender non-binary actor Theo Germaine (Work In Progress, 4400, The Politician) is one of the few reasons to watch the movie.
Germaine does an excellent job of conveying Jordan’s story and the depth of his character.
Not all the other characters in the film have the same level of complexity, which makes Germaine’s performance even more impressive.
The rest of the cast includes:
Here’s the trailer for “They/Them”:
It’s hard to know what to think of this movie other than it’s a disaster. It can’t seem to decide what it wants to be, slasher or no slasher, and as a result, it falls flat.
Slasher films have always been a popular genre. Seeing suspenseful scenes unfold, interspersed with bloody murders, has a way of appealing to many viewers.
However, the director and writer of “They/Them,” John Logan (Skyfall, Aviator, Gladiator), doesn’t deliver on this front.
The murders are boring and uninspired, and the identity of the killer is more than obvious from the beginning. There is none of the suspense and gore usually found in these kinds of films.
As a result, the film feels like a wasted opportunity. It could have been a fun and suspenseful ride, but instead, it’s a dull and lifeless mess.
The strength of the film, but also its weakness, lies in the fact that it tries too hard to humanize the characters.
The first 30 minutes allow us to understand the motivations and history of each character. There is no need to add to it. And yet the film offers us long conversation sessions about the characters' personal experiences over and over again. This quickly becomes boring.
The director’s bias is hard to understand. In his quest to make us feel empathy for these people, he instead makes them uninteresting.
Also, it’s a shame that the place given to secondary characters is so deplorable. With a little more thought and attention, these characters could have brought something special to the film. Instead, some of them have a subplot or two and even romantic arcs, but they appear useless because we never really get to know them. They’re just cogs in the machine, serving to move the plot along without ever really mattering. It’s a missed opportunity to add depth and richness to the story.
“They/Them” is a confusing production that seems afraid of its own ideas. One of the many problems is that the director and writer can’t find the tone. The film goes in too many different directions, which makes it not very coherent and ultimately not very satisfying. And unfortunately, what could have been a unique entry in the slasher genre fails. The performances of the actors are not enough to make the film even remotely good. The actors do their best with what they are given, but the writing is just not good enough. In short, if you want to see a good horror movie, look elsewhere.
If you are curious and want to see for yourself what “They/Them” has to offer, the film is available on Peacock.