This weekend is poised to be a genre lovers’ dream. Netflix’s Sandman and Hulu’s Predator prequel Prey both drops Friday. But, quietly, among all the hype for those two heavy hitters, there are two films that shouldn’t be missed. Stowaway and They/Them are poised to be surprise hits for the streamers. Although they don’t have the same buzz as Sandman and Prey, they are arguably easier watches tailor-made for a weekend watch.
AMC+’s Stowaway is billed as Die Hard meets Panic Room, and I can understand why those two great films are touchstones, but the criminals in Stowaway are by no means masterminds. They are more H.I. McDunnough from Raising Arizona and less Hans Gruber. That doesn’t take anything away from the enjoyment, however. Say what you will about the controversial Ruby Rose, but she has charisma to spare. You can’t look away from her, and thanks to a turn in John Wick and a glut of other entertaining action films and series, she is believable as someone who could and would turn the tables on a team of hijackers.
Rose’s Bella is a semi-reformed party girl who unexpectedly inherited a yacht from her estranged father. On her first night on the boat, a team of vicious thieves take her boat and force her into a cat and mouse game that eventually turns deadly for the thieves. However, Bella isn’t as helpless as she seems and isn’t going down without a fight. The film moves along at a good clip, and the soundtrack keeps things tense. The writing isn’t the best, but Rose is predictably reliable. No one is breaking ground here, but that doesn’t mean Stowaway is dull or tired. If you like watching unexpected heroes turn tables on egotistical criminal turd birds with more confidence than sense, it’s a perfect weekend film. I’m predisposed to like these kinds of movies, and AMC+’s Stowaway is a fun addition to the subgenre.
Although none of the bad guys in Stowaway are inventive, clever, or creatively dastardly as they are in Peacock’s conversion camp thriller They/Them, both films feature great protagonists that carry the film. Peacock’s slasher-lite movie leans hard into expectations and a pitch-perfect script. Kevin Bacon plays a charismatic camp director who wants to help you be your best self as long as that is straight as hell. He is clearly having a ball playing this hideous stain on society, and Theo Germaine as Jordan matches Bacon’s intensity with likability for miles. Germaine steals the show and is a hero we can all get behind.
Although the conversion camp horror film never really delivers on the many scares it promises, John Logan’s script is so sharply written it can’t be denied. There are truly horrific moments that speak to the very real horror of being LGBTQ+ in these sorts of environments. The psychological horror of They/Them far exceeds any classic horror. The scariest thing is the fact that these sorts of camps and people really do exist.
There is very little slashing going on for a movie billed as a campy slasher, but there is plenty of terrifying scenarios. The camp counselors are monsters, and there is a nifty Happy Birthday To Me hommage that my Gen X soul loved. Most kills are done just off camera which I’m not opposed to when done right. The entire cast is excellent, and the big twist ending is unexpected enough to keep you guessing throughout. It is an amusing romp through an arguably smarter Sleepaway Camp.
Stowaway on AMC+ and They/Them on Peacock are out on August 5th, 2022.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.