ComingSoon spoke to Kevin Bacon and Carrie Preston about They/Them, the slasher horror film that takes place at a conversion camp. The two discussed what makes horror so appealing, and how they got into their intense roles. The film premieres on Peacock on August 5, 2022.
“Kevin Bacon plays Owen Whistler in this slasher horror film set at an LGBTQIA+ conversion camp,” says the synopsis. “Several queer and trans campers join Whistler for a week of programming intended to ‘help them find a new sense of freedom.’ As the camp’s methods become increasingly more psychologically unsettling, the campers must work together to protect themselves. When a mysterious killer starts claiming victims, things get even more dangerous.”
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Tyler Treese: Kevin, I found the introduction of your character so interesting, because obviously, the idea of a gay conversion camp being progressive is such an oxymoron, but Owen’s so friendly and almost accepting at the beginning. It makes for a much more interesting and sinister character. Can you speak to just that element of Owen?
Kevin Bacon: Well, that was thanks to John [Logan, director of They/Them]. To his credit, he wrote a guy that was not a cookie cutter, crew cut, flag-wearing, right-wing or religious nut, you know? He wanted to soften the edges of this character and make him a little bit more of a Dead fan or something and make him feel as reasonable as possible. I think that when you set that up, then there’s room to really shock people in a way that happens later on in the film, obviously.
Carrie, you give such a great performance, and you have this great monologue to Theo where you end it with just the scariest smile and a “have a good night.” Can you discuss what you drew from for that haunting scene?
Carrie Preston: Thank you! I think that, sadly, this woman really does believe what she’s saying. But she’s also extremely smart, very intelligent, very well-educated, so she also knows how manipulative she’s being in order to do this. For me, it feels like that’s almost the true horror of this film. Yes, we have the slashing and stuff, but the conversion scenes that Kevin and I both have to be a part of are the true horrors of this terrible practice that still goes on today. I wanted to be a part of something like that. I don’t usually get to play the bad guy, so that was fun for me to do. You kill people with smiles as much as you do with glares, so I went with that.
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Kevin, you have a rich history with horror. What about this project grabbed you and made you want to return to the camp slasher genre? You bring such excitement and expectations to the film.
Kevin Bacon: I love horror because horror has very, very high stakes. It’s life and death, and that’s good stuff to act. John could have made a movie that was about gay conversion. It could have been a dark little indie sort of drama, but to his credit, he realized that horror is a genre that has the possibility of reaching a lot of people. We see that all the time when things come out of the gate and have a very widespread appeal. So to take this background, this terrible idea, this horror in itself of gay conversion, and then plug it into a very traditional structure, for us — a 70s camp slasher movie — was, I thought, a super brilliant idea.
Carrie J. Preston: The script itself is a conversion of what we usually see in these types of films, you know? In a way the film … the counselors become the counselled, so to speak.