**This article contains spoilers for They/Them.**
Queer characters don’t always receive the best treatment when it comes to horror movies. For decades, members of the LGBTQ community have been seen as little more than cannon fodder supporting characters to more mainstream –and straight– final girls and guys. However, films such as 2020’s underrated Freaky and Netflix’s addictive Fear Street trilogy are paving the way for new and better representation in horror movies. Peacock’s recently released They/Them seeks to continue this trend by having a killer take aim at a gay conversion therapy camp, with mixed results.
They/Them is written by, and the directorial debut of, John Logan (10 Cloverfield Lane) and features horror genre veterans Kevin Bacon (Friday the 13th) and Carrie Preston (True Blood), as a conservative couple who runs a gay conversion therapy camp in the middle of nowhere. Shortly after the arrival of a new crop of LGBTQ “guests,” staff members and camp counselors, including My Girl and Veep alum Anna Chlumsky, find themselves getting picked off one by one by a masked murderer.
While They/Them is far from a perfect movie, there are several things that work in it’s favor. A talented cast, particularly the younger cast members like Theo Germaine, Quei Tann, and Cooper Koch, make the most out of the material they’re given. In fact, the youths of the camp do a fine job at depicting both their everyday struggles added to the heightened stress of dealing with a bunch of adult sociopaths who want to “fix” them.
Underneath the typical Blumhouse tropes –the film borrows heavily themes from both Get Out and Happy Death Day– They/Them does a wonderful job at depicting the psychological horrors of a queer person going through conversion therapy, which is enough to drive the overall suspense of the film. The added threat of a masked killer seems almost redundant at times, especially once you figure out that the kids are safe and the sadistic adults are screwed. As unsurprising as the film may be, there are still a few jump scares and truly horrific moments that are hard to watch –particularly Stu’s electrotherapy scene and Preston’s Cora twisting psychiatric care into a form of mental torture.
Which brings us to the cons of the film. The dialogue is not always the best and is borderline cringe at times. If Logan was going for more of a campy/paying homage to ’80s slasher films like Sleepaway Camp feel, this is where he succeeds. Also, for it to be considered a horror film, there’s very little physical horror to behold. Most of the kills are done off-camera, with audiences just being shown random spurts of blood or incredulous reactions from characters about to get the proverbial axe. Horror aficionados will probably easily figure out who the killer is and what their motivations are. And, do conversion therapy camps usually last for just a week? The musical number, while inspired, was absolutely doing too much.
Despite it’s multiple flaws, They/Them was still an enjoyable watch, mainly because of the cast, with a few jump scares and somewhat predictable storyline that will likely make you go “Is that it?”
They/Them is currently streaming on Peacock.