As slasher movies go, “They/Them” (Blumhouse/Peacock) is pretty much a standard issue.
Its isolated campground setting is something with which most of us are familiar. The ax-wielding masked mass murderer is also a device we’ve seen before. The youthful campers run the gamut from docile to dramatic to demanding. The twist, if you will, is that this campground, Whistler Camp, with its “Respect, Renew, Rejoice” welcome sign, exists for the purpose of LGBT conversion therapy.
Whistler is run by Owen (Kevin Bacon in full silver daddy mode) and his less than perky blonde wife Cora (Carrie Preston). They are assisted by nurse Molly (Anna Chlumsky), hot athletics director and “converso” Zane (Boone Platt), Zane’s activities director fiancée Sarah (Hayley Griffith), and predictably creepy handyman Balthazar (Mark Ashworth). Owen makes sure to tell the campers that they’re “A-OK” with him, and that he just wants to help them find their own truth for themselves in the off-the-grid safe space of the secluded setting. What could possibly go wrong?
Of course, there are issues right off the bat. The male/female assigned cabins create a problem for trans/non-binary Jordan (Theo Germaine). Because there is no all-gender cabin, they are sent to the boys’ cabin.
During the uncomfortable rap session, campers Toby (Austin Crute), Veronica (Monique Kim), Stu (Cooper Koch), Kim (Anna Lore), Alexandra (Quei Tann), and Gabriel (Darwin del Fabro, of the indistinguishable foreign accent), reveal personal details about themselves. You can tell quickly which of the campers will bond, and which will fail to connect.
However, even if you’ve only seen one slasher movie, you will know that not everyone is being completely truthful. Alexandra, for example, who presents as a lesbian, is actually trans, and is sent to the boys’ cabin after being detected in the shower. Veronica is a college journalism student writing a piece for her school newspaper about the evils of conversion therapy. Even the converted Zane needs special visual stimulation to have sex with his intended.
But there are far more revelations than those above. Over the course of the movie, which includes cruel therapy sessions, sexual assignations, torture, and violent deaths, we are kept guessing the identity of the masked killer. When it is finally revealed who is behind the slashing, as well as the killer’s justifications for the crimes committed, “They/Them” becomes a run-of-the-mill revenge thriller.
Gregg Shapiro is the author of eight books including the poetry chapbook Fear of Muses (Souvenir Spoon Books, 2022). An entertainment journalist, whose interviews and reviews run in a variety of regional LGBTQ+ and mainstream publications and websites, Shapiro lives in Fort Lauderdale with his husband Rick and their dog Coco.