They/Them has been making waves across the internet primarily for its title. Naming a queer horror film They/Them is either hilariously clever, absurdly ridiculous, or a little bit of both. It probably depends on who you ask. But that doesn’t change the fact that the premise of this film is undoubtedly an interesting one. A group of young people arrives at a gay conversion camp where a number of horrors ensue. It’s a premise that sounds miles from the kitschiness of its title. The movie is out exclusively on Peacock now. So what’s the verdict? Does They/Them exceed the expectations brought by its name? Or does it flop as many have been expecting?
A Slasher Without Much Slashing
Much like its heavily-closeted gay conversion counselors, this film doesn’t really seem to know what it wants. The core intention is clearly for it to be a slasher. But there’s hardly any slashing until the very last 25 minutes of this hour and 40-minute movie. The first five/sixths is clearly a teen drama about kids coming to terms with their identity. There are elements of horror mixed in throughout this movie, but they’re mostly not the slasher variety of horror. Rather they are the psychological elements that pair naturally and very neatly with the evangelical setting. When the psychological elements mix so sweetly into this movie’s setup, the slashing bits wind up feeling incredibly forced.
The reason this movie becomes a slasher at all is extremely confusing. There’s actually some promise here for this film to be decent if the slashing is taken out entirely. It’s written by John Logan. A famous screenwriter who is responsible for the creation of Penny Dreadful and screenplays for Skyfall and the film adaptation of Sweeney Todd. How They/Them wound up feeling so disjointed is anyone’s guess with such a big name behind the scenes.
The acting in They/Them is an area where the film picks up points. Seeing Kevin Bacon in his first slasher role since his big screen debut in the first Friday The 13th is wonderful. He certainly gives it his all as the movie’s smooth-talking head bigot. All of the actors portraying the queer campers feel incredibly relatable. The relationships between the campers are without a doubt the best parts of They/Them.
Final Score For They/Them
They/Them winds up being disappointing. The third act will make you wish they’d stuck with the things that make the first two acts worth sitting through. If someone can make a psychological horror/drama film with a cast as good as the one this film has, they may have something truly special to share.
The final score for They/Them: 3 out of 10.
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