Peacock, a Compelling Jumble of Slasher-Comedy and Earnest LGBTQ+ Drama, Is Available for Streaming Or Skip It

Peacock, a Compelling Jumble of Slasher-Comedy and Earnest LGBTQ+ Drama, Is Available for Streaming  ...

When you read the title They/Them (now on Peacock), be careful not to deceive yourself. This is an LGBTQ+ slasher film that certainly got approved by Blumhouse, the unrelenting fan of horror movies, who heard the following suggestion: What if Camp Crystal Lake was a gay conversion camp? Kevin Bacon, a proud Friday the 13th alum, is returning to the genre that he founded his career.


The gist: A woman drives alone through the deep, dark woods at night. Whump, smash, screech, groan, slow walking, slow slow walking, WHAP. The last one was the axeman, masked of course, ending her everything. WHISTLER CAMP, reads a sign. RESPECT RENEW REJOICE, reads a sign. This is a program where shitheel parents send their children to come home not gay.

The kids are all sad, uneasy, confused, and all of the above at the prospect of these non-binary people straightening them out. Alexandra (Quei Tann) is secretly trans and cannot keep up the ruse; shes also sent to the boys cabin. Toby (Austin Crute) is a rich suburbanite who cant bear to admit he likes boys, and Veronica (Monique Kim) is covertly researching a college paper on gay conversion therapy

Owen the meanie and his cretinous staff get to work twisting these kids up so tightly that they may never be healed, which is a way of saying theyre sadistic and not above severe psychological and physical torture. But, who is the axe murderer?

If Friday the 13th was crossed with Jason Blum's Netflix documentary Pray Away, about the Exodus International's horrific abuses, they/them also half-assess the self-aware horror film commentary a la Scream and The Cabin in the Woods.

Germaine is solid as the protagonist, giving shade and nuance to a somewhat underwritten character who isnt at all willing to roll over and accept things as they are. However, Preston steals the film with a diabolically horrible pronouncement that would transform Hannibal Lecter into a splinter of goo.

Two conversations that summarise the film's jarring tonal divergence:

Kim: I'm always anticipating for Jason Voorhees to emerge from the woods.

Who is Veronica?

And, yes, the answer is:

Alexandra: This is a camp. Do you even believe in anything of this?

Molly: I believe in healing. That's all.

Alexandra: You should perhaps believe in dignity.

Sex and Skin: Butts, faces in crotches, underwear-on dry-humping, going-at-its in the shadows of the camps Mystery Cabin

They/Them hardly performs as intended, despite their shortcomings. Were talking about a 51/49 ratio here, where the writer/director John Logan is expected to wreak havoc on horror-fanatic babies everywhere, who will slam the film for being too scary or gory enough. Perhaps that's true, but it's less so for the psycho Clockwork Orangeisms of Owen Whistlers therapeutic techniques.

Logan manages to keep it all together, though it's lumpy as it is. He wisely hones in on Germaine's gentle, steady presence, which anchors the film on righteous ground, and allows Bacon and Preston to let rip in the latter half of the film. The young cast is strong enough to earn our sympathy in relatively brief scenes of character development, much more than can be said for slasher films, which rarely inspire us to give a fraction of a crap about their soon-

STREAM IT. Logan seems to entrap the horror conceit into the narrative in order to cleverly subvert a genre expectation or two via the LGBTQ+ context, which is just enough ambition to make They/Them worth a look.

John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Visit his website for more information.

They/Them on Peacock

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