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They/Them 2022 Movie Review Poster Trailer Online
Set at conversion camp Whistler Camp owned by husband and wife Owen (Kevin Bacon) and Dr. Cora Whistler (Carrie Preston), a group of LGBTQ+ teens consisting of trans non-binary Jordan (Theo Germaine), Trans woman Alexandra (Quel Tann), flamboyant gay man Toby (Austin Crute)closeted lesbian Kim (Anna Lore), and gay man Stu (Cooper Koch) are all attending the camp for various reasons either through coercion of their families or out of societal pressure. While Owen tries to present a friendly and welcoming environment, the veneer is eroded over time as the camp’s oppressive atmosphere and barely concealed contempt for deviation from heteronormative standards takes darker turns day after day.
They/Them is the directorial debut for writer/director John Logan whose career took off with 2000’s Gladiator leading to other respected hits like The Last Samurai and The Aviator, and has also dabbled in the Bond franchise with the Daniel Craig fronted Skyfall and Spectre. Following the release of the Jason Blum and Ryan Murphy produced documentary Pray Away which looked at survivors of conversion therapy, Blum had wanted to make a narrative feature covering the same topic and by chance happened upon the spec script for They/Them (then called Whistler Camp) written by John Logan and acquired the rights. The film has just been released on Peacock and it is a solid debut from Logan and is definitely one of the better Get Out inspired horror films that mixes horror with social commentary.
While with its punny title of “They Slash Them” as it’s pronounced would lead you to believe this is a slasher film, the movie does have slasher elements to it but they’re mostly secondary while the primary plot is based around the oppressive atmosphere and psychological unease serving as the primary source of terror in the film. The movie gets the atmosphere just right as Whistler Camp while welcoming on the surface is eventually revealed to be an oppressive place of surveillance, coercion, bullying, and sadism with the each of the camp staff carrying some level of ugliness to themselves that manifests throughout. While the movie doesn’t put the slasher elements at the forefront, much like this year’s earlier slasher film X, it uses the time before the slasher conventions to good effect creating likable characters who we grow to care about as the movie proceeds in contrast to the mistake many other slashers make of trying to make the audience root for their deaths (looking at you Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2022). Theo Germaine is very good as our lead Jordan and they show great screen presence with a lot of great moments between them and other characters in the film, Kevin Bacon is also quite good as camp proprietor Owen Whistler who starts off relatively charming only for that charm to wash away through the runtime and revealing the sneering sadist he truly is, but not far behind Bacon is Carrie Preston as Owen’s wife Dr. Cora Whistler who’s scene with Theo Germaine where she says psychologically hurtful things in a calm nurturing “motherly voice” while sporting a punchable sneer makes her a solid antagonist. We also have a solid supporting ensemble including Anna Chlumsky as the sympathetic nurse Molly, Austin Crute is charismatic as Toby, and Anna Lore and Monique Kim are quite good in their scenes together as well.
They/Them is a solid character based horror film that works nicely as a cathartic takedown of these conversion camps and features a likable set of characters and performances played against some truly hateful scum. The commentary isn’t groundbreaking or anything, but the movie isn’t built upon commentary alone and actually builds a story and characters around it that make you care beyond the film’s message.