Tragedy Girls


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Tragedy Girls
"Loud, colourful, facetious and painstakingly shallow, Tragedy Girls perfectly captures the high school movie vibe."

In 1968, Andy Warhol said that everybody could be famous for 15 minutes. Since then, the world’s population has doubled, so despite the internet seemingly offering the opportunity to live the dream, we only get seven and a half minutes each. This is not enough for ambitious girls like Sadie (Brianna Hildebrand) and McKayla (Alexandra Shipp). They want to make a big impression and they’re working hard to get to the top of their chosen field – not pop music, movies or sport, but serial killing.

Achieving stardom isn’t easy. The girls are worried that people will keep thinking their killings are accidents, so they capture an established serial killer in the hope that they can learn from him, but all he wants to talk about is his hatred of women and he doesn’t know a thing about social media marketing. Meanwhile, local journalists are starting to get annoyed with our heroines jumping in front of the cameras to promote their website every time some unfortunate teen is found dismembered. Other kids at school don't appreciate how cool they are, they're having boyfriend problems, and it's only a few weeks until prom. What's a girl to do but up the body count?

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Loud, colourful, facetious and painstakingly shallow, Tragedy Girls perfectly captures the high school movie vibe. The murders are cartoonish, taking a stab at every passing slasher film, but there are just enough moments of fleeting humanity to make us root for the girls on their angstful journey, as they discover that nothing in life matters as much as being best friends forever. The central joke is really too slight for a feature and the film lacks the character development and wit that made Heathers so successful a generation earlier, but it's very effective in capturing the spirit of the age. The super-confident girls are fragile when caught off guard, which attracts sympathy even when the people they're killing seem nice, and format tempts us to hope, out of habit, that their dreams will come true.

Director Tyler MacIntyre really excels when it comes to blending the bubblegum colours of teenage dreams with the gritty aesthetic of the genre to which the girls' prisoner belongs. Long, sweeping camera movements capture the heady disorientation of youth, with our heroines often seeming lost in a crowd. We move in closer for the killings, suggesting that, besides their friendship, this is the only context in which they can form intimate connections. When they're observing one another doing this, the connection is broken.

In its element at this year's Fantasia, Tragedy Girls combines high comedy and copious gore with a lonely look at adolescence and the agony of not being a star.

Reviewed on: 29 Jul 2017
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High school seniors McKayla and Sadie are obsessed with their social media presence as authorities on crime - the only trouble is, they're the hands-on type.

Director: Tyler MacIntyre

Writer: Chris Lee Hill, Tyler MacIntyre, Justin Olson

Starring: Alexandra Shipp, Brianna Hildebrand, Josh Hutcherson, Craig Robinson, Kevin Durand

Year: 2017

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: US

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