"They/Them" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
How did John Logan, the writer of such great films like "Skyfall" and "The Aviator", craft such a dull and ridiculous film for his directorial debut? At first glance, "They/Them" already seems like it's not going to work as a slasher film. I couldn't imagine setting this genre of film around a gay conversion therapy camp, but that's exactly what Logan did. Just as I expected, this film didn't work in any way whatsoever, but I honestly didn't expect for this film to be so bad and cringey as it was.
The opening scenes of the film show a woman traveling through the woods, when her car ran over spikes that pop her tire. She is then brutally slaughtered by a masked killer, which shows is close by to a camp that parents send their homosexual children to. Kevin Bacon plays Owen, the man who runs the camp. He makes it perfectly clear to the new campers that he doesn't want them to change, and if being gay makes them happy, they he doesn't want to do anything to change that. However, the campers, as well as the viewers, know that is not true, and he will serve as some sort of antagonist for the film.
The camp activities start off very well, including games of tug of war and the campers doing bonding exercises. However, the activities start to get much more dark and terrifying, making the campers wonder what exactly is going on here. When the camp is not what it seems, and there being a terrifying unknown killer on the loose, the campers must now figure out a way to escape from this hellhole in the middle of the woods.
Bacon returns to his roots, as his career debut was in the first "Friday the 13th", where he played a camper slaughtered by Ms. Voorhees. This time around, he plays this evil and manipulative camp counselor who tries to turn the campers into "normal people", when he doesn't realize the campers are who they want to be. The movie tries to make the viewer believe that the camp counselors are great people who just want the campers to have a good time, but the film ultimately fails at making the audience think that. Logan thinks he can pull one over on the viewer, and then surprise them with massive plot twists towards the end of the movie. This is the mistake he makes of thinking the audience is stupid. He thinks he can use these idiotic tropes and have the viewers in the palm of his hand, when he is honestly insulting the intelligence of those who watch this movie.
I also don't really know what the hell he was thinking of combing a film about a horrible gay conversion therapy camp with the slasher genre. Neither of the two ideas fit together, and it is almost depressing how hard he tries to make it work. The film is perhaps 90% gay conversion camp and 10% slasher, neither of the two parts working. To start, the storyline about all of the campers is honestly too much, and after a while, it seems like they're trying too hard to shove the content down your throat. Sure, films that deal with the topic of homosexuality and acceptance are great and very important, but this movie is basically giving the middle finger to all straight people, and they practically force the audience to accept them how they are. This just simply does not work; it doesn't matter if you're gay, straight, white, black, male, female, non-binary, etc, it is not effective to make your characters douchebags or shove the content down the viewer's throat.
At the same time, the slasher aspect of this film is absolutely horrible. It doesn't try to scare or thrill the audience, and as a whole, it seems like the slasher aspect was just a surprise add-on at the end of the movie. There is literally nothing important about the killer, and the whole storyline about is in effect in the final ten minutes of the film. Yet, at the same time, it is so predictable and ridiculous that I don't think it can even count as a slasher or horror film. The shocking twist of who the killer is is also predictable and downright lazy writing.
There is no wonder why this went straight to Peacock and didn't try a theatrical release. If there was a theater preview for this film, I genuinely feel bad for those who wasted $10 to see this movie. It is offensive to the viewer's intelligence, and wastes the time of everyone who watches this movie. It's hard to find where exactly Logan went wrong, and it's honestly depressing he stooped this low to make a film this horrendously bad.