They/Them is a horror movie about a conversion therapy camp, which alone should be terrifying enough, but the movie also throws a slasher subplot into the mix. It’s struggling with its own identity. To put it bluntly, it plays like Ryan Murphy fanfiction, a combination of American Horror Story with Glee because at one point the characters break into a song and dance out of nowhere.
But more on that later.
A busload of young people in their late teens arrive at the Whistler Camp, a conversion camp for people in the LGBTQIA community. It’s run by Owen Whistler (Kevin Bacon) and his wife, Dr. Cora Whistler (Carrie Preston), with assistants Zane (Boone Platt) and Sarah (Hayley Griffith). There’s also Molly (Anna Clumsky) who has recently been hired. Owen tells them that there won’t be much mention of religion or Christianity but immediately those in attendance notice strange things.
If there is a main protagonist, it’s Jordan (Theo Germaine), who’s trans and non-binary, and is a surprise for the organizers as they show they can hit a bulls-eye on a paper target with a rifle. During a session with Cora, they are called out that gets them upset to the point that an impromptu singing of Pink’s “Fucking Perfect” breaks out between them and Alexandra (Quei Tann), a transgender woman who has been placed in the bunkhouse with the other young men. This also includes a scene in which Stu (Cooper Koch), a closeted gay man who is built like a brick shithouse, shows he has some impressive dance moves.
What the hell does this scene have to do with this movie? I don’t know, but it doesn’t work. Why does Hollywood have this thing having LGBTQIA people break into music? But even considering this is a horror/thriller, it’s just out of place.
Bacon does what he can as the evil Owen but the role is so over the top that you can tell where he’s going with something before it happens. And that’s the problem. This movie mainly tries to offend rather than scare. But in the end, it just reinforces the same negative stereotypes about those in the LGBTQIA community. I don’t want to give it away but one of the gay characters is actually a plant at the camp. This also goes with another scene in which Sarah tries to temp the perky blonde Kim (Anne Lore) in a scene that seems like it should have a porno bass riff playing on the soundtrack.
Preston also does what she can with her role as a counselor trying to break the youth down but there’s too many characters in this movie and it only turns into a slasher in the final half hour. A couple of ancillary characters are killed (one at the beginning and another halfway through), but I just didn’t feel it worked.
Conversion therapy is very controversial and it’s mostly centered operated by people who claim they’re Christians. Boy Erased showed a more horrifying story of conversion therapy and it was based on a true story. Bacon also acts as an executive producer. Jason Blum produced this through his Blumhouse Production company and he also produced, along with Murphy, the documentary Pray Away. And not to give much away but They/Them portrays the people working at Whistler as the bad guys and those in the LGBTQIA community as the heroes. But I felt it tried so damn hard to make a point that it forget to be entertaining.
This is sad because it’s written and directed by John Logan, who has worked with Martin Scorsese on Hugo and The Aviator and Ridley Scott with Gladiator and Alien Covenant. The man has an impressive resume as a writer. This is his first movie as a director. Elaine May was a great comedy writer, but she also directed Ishtar.
The movie also follows the Law of the Most Extraneous Character in regarda who the killer is. And this character often disappears for a lot of time they’re revelation isn’t much of a surprise if you seen these types of movie. This movie will make everyone mad. It reportedly doesn’t go far enough to show the horrors of conversion therapy yet it keeps religion and Christianity off the table not to anger religious people. It reinforces stereotypes while thinking its breaking down walls. Yes, there are actors who part of the LGBTQIA community but it’s like Logan and Blum want to be patted on theirs backs showing them not being the victims. And there are also two sex scenes (one involving two women and another involving two men) that plays more like explicit exploitation.
If anything else, both sides will despite this movie. If there is one good thing to say about this is that it shows equality and inclusion. No one will probably like it.
What do you think? Please comment.