(Some spoilers ahead.)
Most reviews I have read of the film, Tragedy Girls, calls it a modern-day Heathers, and I do see the resemblance. It is a story of murderous high school girls who are searching to answer the same question that all teenagers suffer with: who am I? Well, Tragedy Girls answers this — you are your online presence. The tragedy girls, McKayla and Sadie, are motivated solely by gaining likes and followers online by any means necessary. The all-important social media rules everything. And McKayla and Sadie discover that tragedy leads to popularity.
I didn’t totally get this film, to be honest. I got what it was trying to accomplish, but I don’t think I was entertained. Tragedy Girls was not bad, but it was not great either.
Not Great Aspects
I understand that the filmmakers were using classic horror tropes and cliches in this film, but there were still some eye-rolling moments. McKayla and Sadie use their sexuality to lure men (usually to their death). I didn’t appreciate this as a wink to classic tropes. I think the world is generally afraid of teenage girls, specifically evident in the common vilification of teenage girls who supposedly have the ability to seduce adult men, and even more specifically, teenage girls of color. Whether the film was supposed to be using this characterization to open the viewers’ eyes to the ridiculousness of this trope or not, it didn’t work. The fact that these boy-crazy girls are created by white, male writers does not help.
Regarding diversity, my other issues with the film are these: The white, teenage boy is the most sane and smartest person in the whole film. The only other developed characters are the main girls, one of which is White and one is Black. The Black girl, McKayla, is more angry, less sane, completely heartless throughout, and has a psych profile on record at her school. The White girl, Sadie, is somewhat redeeming for about two-thirds of the story, and she never is able to bring herself to kill her crush (the smart, White boy), while McKayla is easily able to off her crush. Every other character, some of which are people of color, is quickly introduced, and quickly killed off. There are no opportunities to care about these innocent characters are dying because the viewers don’t know them.
Don’t get me wrong, I was glad to see two women as the main characters and villains — one of which is not white. Also, both girls seem to have wonderful home lives with loving parents and a stable environment. They are not given a traditional reason to be terrible people, but they are. The use of music in the film to emphasize the absurdity of some characters or monologues or scenes is comedic. And the unflinching dedication to being popular online is humorous because it is ludicrous…but not too far from what is the reality for teens (cringe). Also, everything is online. All of the texts, emails, photos, videos are all on the phones of Sadie and McKayla! Rookie mistake, teens.
However, having a main character of color in McKayla is very important….and she makes it! She is one of the two final girls! Both girls are cold and terrible, but clever and able to work the system to their advantage, which viewers can respect. Females don’t always have to be “likable”.
“Maybe stop sharing your location online.”
“I’d rather die.”
Perhaps I was not the target audience for this film. I am far from high school, and didn’t grow up with access to the internet or social media. I don’t think the filmmakers did a great job in obviously making fun of all of the tropes — some were clear, but some were present and not set up as a joke.
The difference between Heathers and Tragedy Girls is that I understood the Heathers’ teens’ motivation to murder who they murdered, and also saw the comedy in the film. Heathers had at least one or two characters that the viewers were invested in — Tragedy Girls has none. The end of Heathers felt like a victory for Veronica (Winona Ryder’s character), but at the end of Tragedy Girls, I felt nothing. Again, I might be too old to appreciate or understand it, but overall, the stakes were low in this film, and it was easy to lose interest.
Incluvie Score: Women are lead characters, one of which is Black
General Score: Couldn’t hold up to other films in the genre; Moved too fast to care about any characters
Written by Sarah Erskine