“A group of teenagers at an LGBTQ+ conversion camp endures unsettling psychological techniques while being stalked by a mysterious masked killer.”

Director: John Logan
Writers: John Logan
Staring: Kevin Bacon, Anna Chlumsky, Carrie Preston, Anna Lore, Cooper Koch, Theo Germaine, Quei Tann
Release Date: August 5, 2022
IMDB

All I wanted was a Friday The 13th (1980) style slasher film. That is all I wanted., I didn’t got into They/Them (2022) with high expectations. All I wanted was a tolerable viewing experience that delivered some teenagers being dumb, a cool killer and one star to keep the story glued together.

They/Them delivered nothing. It was like getting an unexpected package delivered by the UPS man but all it contains are packing peanuts and tissue paper. They/Them just needed to deliver something; a clever kill, a memorable character or a satisfying ending.

Nothing, nothing at all.

They/Them sets up Owen (Kevin Bacon) as a leader of an LGBTQ+ conversion camp and he has just received a new back of residents who are all so enthused to be there. Owen gives the crew a speech that makes it seem like the camp isn’t too terrible, but that obviously is not the case. With the other leaders of the camp, one of which is his wife, Owen puts all the individuals in mental torture chambers, making them question their confidence, orientation and dedication to individuality. At times it goes past just mental torture and leaks into a twisted form a physical therapy.

Adding onto the torment of the campers is a masked killer who has decided to wear a mask and kill numerous people in various bloody ways.

Here is the thing. You can guess who the killer in They/Them is within the first 30 minutes of the movie. It is not hidden one bit. It stares you straight in the face as if it was the eye sight test just waiting on a cabinet door for you to recite it. The only time way you could miss the killer at the start is if you skipped the first hour of the movie, which if you did would get you to the actually “scary” part of the story.

They/Them does not reach any sense of horror until the final act. If the movie is well paced and constructed, then that’s perfectly fine. Who doesn’t love a good tease. They/Them does not have any breadcrumbs for you to nibble on. We get a kill at the start of the movie, then a quick peak at the killer in the woods. That is all.

If you want to look in the mind of writer and director John Logan, perhaps it is because he wanted to paint Owen and the other camp leaders as the main villains. Perhaps he wanted their twisted viewpoints on gender identity, societal roles and rudimentary attraction to be the rallying cry for the audience. One can understand that line of thinking, but that would mean that those aspects of the film would need to be good.

Hint, they are not.

Is this the worst role of Kevin Bacon’s career? I have never seen him worst in a movie.

Kevin Bacon is in need of a win. He was in the small independent original horror movie You Should Have Left (2020) with Amanda Seyfried and that missed the mark. Before that he did a bunch of television shows and movies. The movie he was in prior to You Should Have Left was Patriots Day (2016). This year he appeared in Space Oddity (2022) which sounds very interesting and an offbeat science fiction story, but he followed that up with They/Them.

Upcoming Bacon has One Way where his character is literally named “Asshole” and his other completed project is The Toxic Avenger. In this adaption of Lloyd Kaufman and Joe Ritter’s written work, Bacon is starring next to Jacob Tremblay, Peter Dinklage, and Elijah Wood. I am intrigued with this cast. All I know about The Toxic Avenger is the original movie poster.

With They/Them, Bacon is back in the genre and setting that gave him his start, but this time around there isn’t a single moment worth writing home about. The pen pal dropbox is completely empty at Whistler Camp.

You know who is the only one writing about They/Them? It’s me. This guy. Right here. And I am writing you to tell you to skip They/Them.

STANKO RATING: F (1.0/5 Stars)

P.S. Why did I put the strikeouts analogy in the title? I don’t fucking know. Maybe I was watching the Red Sox when I stared writing this reaction and that probably aided in amping up my frustration.

P.S.S. Somehow They/Them has a lower IMDB rating than Hell Trip (2018), which is an even worse movie. Hell Trip was made on a shoestring budget and wasn’t meant to be looking like a potential theater movie, but still that shows how much people disliked They/Them.


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