‘They/Them’ opens doors for the future of horror – North Texas Daily


When it’s all said and done, none of this year’s movies have a more clever title than “They/Them.” This summer camp slasher, directed by John Logan, is a classic concept with a modern twist. The film struggles in a lot of ways but the silver lining is that it was made in the first place.

Horror films have had LGBTQ representation before but this main cast is made up of actors who are a part of the community in real life. Shows and films have historically cast straight actors in LGBTQ roles. “They/Them” prioritizes handling its characters first before anything else. The film doesn’t focus much on anything else, for better or for worse, leaving many underwhelmed.

A group of campers find themselves at a conversion camp with concerning tactics. Just when things can’t seem to get worse, a masked killer is on the loose and takes people out one by one.

It was refreshing to see so many new faces in a horror movie cast. Austin Crutea as Toby and Quei Tann as Alexandra were clear standouts. They absolutely crushed it and were also the only two who didn’t seem like they were reading directly off a script. That can’t be said about the rest of the cast, but it at least makes for some campy and memorable moments.

Many of these actors have not been in a lot of projects outside of this one, so hopefully, they get more opportunities to showcase their talents. This film delivered representation and surely can pave the way for more shows and films in the future.

Kevin Bacon plays a wickedly sadistic camp counselor. While his performance may be two-dimensional, it gets the point across rather quickly.

In a film with the main cast being underrepresented young people, someone qualified for a senior discount should not be in the director’s chair. By all means, LGBTQ directors and writers have the right to tell the stories they want to tell. However, this film could have greatly benefited from a voice familiar to its main characters.

It has become a running joke how it is obvious when older people write dialogue for younger people, and this film falls victim to it a lot. Logan is a fantastic writer, having worked on films like “Skyfall” and “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” His contributions are crucial in having LGBTQ representation in the industry. This film just would have benefitted in the hands of someone else.

“They/Them” spends a good amount of time with the characters and their internal struggles. It never comes off as disingenuous with the first act of the film setting things up really well. After the stage is set for our campers, nearly nothing is done with it.

The slasher aspect of the film never really asserts itself. The whodunnit mystery can be solved quickly – mainly because there is only one suspect in the entire movie. It leans more into the horrors of not being accepted for who you are.

Approaching horror this way would be completely fine if it weren’t for it being used in the same way for every single character. It all feels like a missed opportunity even with glimmers of quality here and there.

People are going to be hard on this movie, with certain crowds being hard on it for all the wrong reasons. Horror has always been inclusive by default, and this film only adds to that statement. Representation should definitely be held to a higher standard than “They/Them,” but the attempt this film made was one no one attempted before.

Actively hating this movie is a waste of time. Recognizing the film’s problems while still supporting what it tried its best to accomplish is the best way to look at “They/Them.” Support LGBTQ filmmakers and support LGBTQ horror.

Jaden’s Rating: 2/5

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