‘They/Them’ Review: A Slasher Low on Scares, High on Snores

When the title is the best part thing about your film, you’re in trouble.

“They/Them” is the directorial debut of screenwriter John Logan, and follows a group of teens who attend a gay conversion camp (run by Kevin Bacon), only to be stalked by a masked killer. Jason Blum produces through his Blumhouse banner.

When the film was announced, I have to be honest and admit I was intrigued. The title (“they-slash-them”) is admittedly clever for a slasher film, and having LGBT campers being hunted by a killer could be a fun twist on the “Friday the 13th” formula. However the fun title is where the positives start and end with the film, as the actual result is an incredibly slow, at some times cringe and other times pandering “horror” film.

The performances are, fine. Kevin Bacon adds a bit of prestige to the film among a cast of mostly no-names, and there’s something amusing of him returning to the summer camp setting 42 years after the original “Friday the 13th.” Theo Germaine as the central star among the campers is solid, with a few smart aleck responses and emotional pleas.

Every other aspect of the film is an embarrassment of riches on how not to make a horror film. I’m incredibly lenient on slasher films; all I ask is for some fun kills and decent pacing and you’re already at a 5 or 6 rating no matter the quality of your script. “They/Them” opens with a kill and then takes about 40 minutes to get to another, before the obligatory bloodbath (that feels entirely tacked-on) in the climax. The kills aren’t really all that great, either, with a lot of swinging of an ax followed by a cut to blood being splattered on a wall like this was a student film.

Most of the film is spent focusing on the horrors of conversion therapy. We get speeches about “I was born this way, I didn’t choose to be like this” and “don’t you want to live a normal life?” and every other talking point you’d expect from a film like this. There’s also more Millennial/Gen Z buzzwords than should be legally allowed in a film, as to be expected when a 60-year-old writes your screenplay in an attempt to be topical. Most of the world agrees that conversion therapy doesn’t work and supports people living their own lives, so I’m not really sure who the script is trying to convince here.

And I haven’t even gotten to the worst part about the film, in that it’s simply incredibly boring and at times cringey. Things move at a molasses pace, and the bland color palette choices don’t do the film any favors. The only notable scene of the film, the only one that will stay with me simply because it is burned into my brain, is where the campers, all sad and down on themselves, break out into a “Glee”-like rendition of P!nk’s “F*cking Perfect.” It is so out of nowhere, so out of place in a *checks notes* horror film, that the hairs on my arm actually stood up I was so uncomfortable watching it. And they sing, like, the whole song, with solos and harmonizing and everything; it’s honestly the scariest part of the whole film. It’s a good thing so few people have Peacock (where this is streaming), because otherwise the sequence would’ve gone viral by now for all the wrong reasons.

“They/Them” is a waste of time, money, and talent, in a genre that is pretty easy to at least have guilty pleasure-level entertainment value. There is a point where one of the campers says “I keep waiting for Jason Voorhees to come out of these woods” and honestly girl, same. Being a bad film is one thing, but being a boring one is unforgivable.

Critics Rating: 2/10


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