They/Them (2022)
April 14, 2023 2:43 PM - Subscribe

Campers at an LGBTQ+ conversion camp endure unsettling psychological techniques while the campsite is stalked by a mysterious killer.

Get it, "They Slash Them." A group of young adults show up at a camp run by creepy Kevin Bacon, who rather than get them to dance, wants them to straighten up. Ultimately, the frights are pretty intermittent, though the actors do a decent job with weak material.
posted by larrybob (3 comments total)
I've not seen it, but I've got to imagine it's tough to pull off a horror film where the setting is more horrifying than a killer in the woods.
posted by stevis23 at 9:14 PM on April 14, 2023 [3 favorites]

I'm totally the target audience for this - love queers, love horror - but after reading multiple lgbtq critics say it doesn't deliver on its promise I put it in the "maybe sometime when I can't sleep" category. Autostraddle's review includes two common complaints: 1) the film's trans campers are given no sex or even a moment of romance, unlike the other campers, and 2) there's a kind of pathetic flinching in the ending that undermines much of the power of the characters:

this film is timid, in a lot of ways besides the above. And timid is not what I’m looking for in horror. The gay sex is fun and given its spotlight...but none of the trans/nonbinary characters have sex. Which, I’ll repeat as a question for you: In a campy, sexy, summery, drive-in-movie-fodder, make-out-in-the-car-with-your-partner(s)-movie that is supposed to be explicitly queer/trans centered WHY are the trans characters not given so much as a kiss?...John Logan was willing to write and direct a movie where people are literally massacred and tormented, where trans pain is on display, but hesitated to show our heroes actually receiving any kind of non-platonic love or affection. It’s a glaring omission.

And then they bring the police in at the end. Which, just, no...The ending robs the queer characters of their agency...I’d have loved to have seen more of what the characters would have done at the conclusion of the film when left to their own devices as opposed to perpetuating some rote fantasy about cops showing up and handling things. Cops are not our friends! We had an opportunity for the queer characters to resist their oppressors, to fight back, and instead, we get a tired plea for non-violence.

For a movie that bills itself as a queer empowerment film, there is neither enough fighting back nor enough in-your-face queerness, and while I’m not surprised due to the director’s history, I AM surprised because of the genre. In horror, you can really go there, and friends, they did not. Somehow, a cis white gay man managed to think of elaborate ways to torment queer and trans campers and saved none of his creativity for revenge on the straights. The kills are dull. The reveal contains no nuance. They/Them had the promise of having teeth only to wind up being all gums — and that was just a personal blow for a movie named with the pronouns I use.

The author does agree with larrybob that "the actors fucking sell it" and says although "I don’t think this movie will find any kind of noteworthy place in the queer horror canon for me, excepting its novelty" they also add, "Even though we deserve better...we deserve to enjoy the flawed, campy summer horror we do have, too."
posted by mediareport at 7:11 PM on April 15, 2023 [3 favorites]

It's all right. Kind of an interesting attempt, kind of eh.
posted by pelvicsorcery at 4:07 PM on April 16, 2023

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