NOT GIRLY GIRLS
Review by Ray Schillaci
Tyler MacIntyre’s Tragedy Girls is the most fun and clever way one could have damning social media. The whole film could have taken an easy nosedive with the premise of a couple of young, spoiled, sociopathic social media climbers with a penchant for killing, living out their final year of high school while seeking out a mentor serial killer. God, that sounds like an awful idea, but writer/director MacIntyre along with writer Chris Lee Hill, working off an original script by Justin Olson, make the whole bloody affair work with snappy directing, a witty script and two killer performances by Brianna Hildebrand (absolutely wonderful in Deadpool) as Sadie and Alexandra Shipp (Straight Outta Compton, X-Men Apocalypse) as McKayla.
Sadie and McKayla have what they deem as a very serious dilemma, their “Tragedy Girls” Twitter account is unpopular, and we all know how important popularity is in high school. They have been chronicling the murders of a possible serial killer in town, but nobody seems to care except for McKayla’s mother and the sheriff’s son, Jordan Welch, played with a very nice guy touch by Jack Quaid (Hunger Games).
The girls feel they need a real edge and want to take extreme steps to gain notoriety. They lure the serial killer, Lowell, out of hiding and hold him captive until he agrees to tutor them. But, Lowell is a disappointment to them. The girls become bored, continue to keep him in hiding, and dispose of the bait they used, Sadie’s last date. They try to cast doubt on their Twitter feed that the boy was a runaway, and instead was possibly the latest victim of the mysterious serial killer, but they’re sabotaged by the news media.
These girls are socially needy drama queens and the stakes go way up as they continue on with their own murder spree only to have them explained off as accidents (infuriating them even more). Then there is their pet serial killer that they have socked away, tied to a chair, only fed dog food. He attempts to get into McKayla’s head, warning her that her friend will turn on her the moment they get any kind of notoriety.
McKayla starts having her doubts once Sadie encourages her to kill the ex-boyfriend she still swoons over. Sadie does this under the guise of stealing his Twitter followers. With the help of the sheriff’s son who is crushing big time on Sadie, Tragedy Girls’ Twitter starts to soar and so does the body count, and Jordan has no idea the girls are the perpetuators.
Throughout it all, Tragedy Girls pokes fun at the narcissistic behavior that permeates the life of so many high schoolers and their affection/obsession with social media. It’s like watching the best of Dexter with a teen slant and slash. The humor is very dark, and for some it could be off-putting, but there is such a playfulness to it all, it just cannot be taken too seriously.
Aside from the standout performances from Hildebrand and Shipp that really put this film into high gear, Kevin Durand is wildly over-the-top fun as Lowell the maniacal killer. Josh Hutcherson is very funny as the steamy and super deep ex-boyfriend of McKayla, and Craig Robinson can’t help but garner laughs with just about anything he does. Altogether, the entire cast ranks up there with the best of teen kill films: Scream, Final Destination, and I Know What You Did Last Summer.
MacIntyre and his writing team have paid enjoyable homage to some of the most popular teen slasher films and even a shockingly ridiculous nod to Cannibal Holocaust. But no matter how ruthlessly violent or disgusting Tragedy Girls may get, we still get a wicked wink and a nod that wins us over in the end. To just merely compare this devilish delight to 1988’s Heathers is an over simplification. Tragedy Girls has its own edginess that cuts with a knife, all the while having you laughing and gasping at the same time. MacIntyre’s film also begs to be seen by a large indiscriminate audience that wants to party, have a good time, and is ready to tweet about it.
Directed by: Tyler MacIntyre
Release Date: October 20, 2017
Run Time: 98 Minutes
Distributor: Gunpowder & Sky