ComingSoon spoke with Kevin Bacon and Carrie Preston about They them, the slasher horror film set in 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 stars as 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 aimed at ‘helping them find a new sense of freedom.'” As the camp’s methods become increasingly psychologically disturbing, the campers must work together to protect themselves. When a mysterious killer starts claiming victims, things get even more dangerous.”
Tyler Treese: Kevin, I found the introduction of your character so interesting because the idea of a gay conversion camp being progressive is obviously such an oxymoron, but Owen is so kind and almost accepting in the beginning. It makes for a much more interesting and creepy character. Can you speak to that particular element of Owen?
Kevin Bacon: Well, it was thanks to John [Logan, director of They/Them]. To his credit, he wrote a guy who wasn’t a cookie-cutter, crew cut, flag-carrying, right-wing or religious nut, you know? He wanted to soften the edges of this character and make him a little more of a Dead fan or something and make him feel as sane as possible. I think when you set it up, there’s room to really shock people in a way that, of course, happens later in the film.
Carrie, you give such an amazing performance and you have this amazing 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 the haunting scene?
Carrie Preston: Thank you! Unfortunately, I think this woman really believes what she says. But she’s also extremely smart, very intelligent, very well educated, so she also knows how manipulative she is to do this. To me, it feels like that’s almost the true horror of this movie. Yes, we have slashing and stuff, but the conversion scenes that Kevin and I both got to be a part of are the true horrors of this horrible practice that still goes on today. I wanted to be a part of something like that. I don’t usually play the bad guy, so it was fun for me to do. You kill people with smiles as much as you do with glares, so I went with that.
Kevin, you have a rich history of horror. What about this project grabbed you and made you want to return to the camp slasher genre? You bring such excitement and anticipation to the film.
Kevin Bacon: I love horror because horror has very, very high stakes. It’s life and death, and it’s good to act. John could have made a movie that was about gay conversion. It could have been a dark little indie drama, but to his credit he realized that horror is a genre that has the potential to reach 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 itself of gay conversion, and then put 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 this type of movie, you know? In a way, the film becomes… the counselors the guided, so to speak.