Tuesday, March 28, 2023

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They/Them Commits A Hollywood Cardinal Sin – Screen Rant

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Blumhouse’s latest movie They/Them features classic horror action that the production company is known for, but it commits a big Hollywood no-no.
Blumhouse Productions' latest slasher They/Them is full of jump scares and gruesome murders, but the horror movie breaks one of Hollywood's biggest unwritten rules. They/Them is the directorial debut of John Logan, an American film writer best known for his work on the scripts of Gladiator and Skyfall. Logan also has experience of writing horror movies, having been on the writing team for Alien: Covenant and his TV series Penny Dreadfulbut They/Them marks his first slasher movie.
Starring Kevin Bacon as Owen Whistler, the owner of a conversion camp, They/Them's cast features a diverse group of LGBTQ+ actors. Among them is Austin Crute as Toby, a gay man sent to Owen's camp, and Theo Germaine as Jordan, the emerging de-facto leader of the campers. While They/Them does an excellent job of hiring an inclusive and representative cast, the horror in the film itself is largely forgettable and includes some distasteful moments.
Related: They/Them Ending Explained (In Detail)
They/Them brutally killed Old Duke, Owen's dog, and in doing so, committed a cardinal sin when it comes to filmmaking. Famously, killing animals, particularly dogs, does not go down well with audiences. Moviegoers have said that they get more upset seeing animals die than humans because animals are typically innocent characters. Old Duke was a happy and friendly dog, so his cruel and needless death was a shocking moment in They/Them.
They/Them has many problems that arguably make it the worst horror movie of 2022, but killing Old Duke was one of its bigger issues. In the scene, Owen ordered Toby to kill Duke with a rifle, claiming that the happy dog was in pain and dying from cancer. Owen threatens to torture the dog if Toby refuses, but when he can't bring himself to pull the trigger, Jordan shoots and kills the dog. The chaotic scene was full of tension, but it would have been just as impactful without Duke dying because it had already demonstrated how manipulative and evil Kevin Bacon's Owen could be.
Obviously, Duke isn't the first dog to die in a movie, but the way he went out felt wholly unnecessary. Some of cinema's most notable dog deaths, like Sam in I Am Legend, are emotional because the dog's unconditional love for their owners is given time to play out before they die. But They/Them doesn't show much of a bond between Owen and Duke, and the innocent dog's death is included solely to add shock value to the movie – only serving to enhance how needless the death really was.
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