Say hello to your new favorite maniac pixie nightmare girls.
Tragedy Girls is a goddamn blast. That’s really all you need to know before seeing it because unless you hate smart laughs, gory kills, and kick-ass – albeit wildly homicidal – teenage girls you’re probably going to love this fresh, fast-moving mix of Scream meets Heathers meets 2017. But for those of you who need a bit more convincing, here goes.
Sadie (Brianna Hildebrand, Deadpool) and McKayla (Alexandra Shipp, X-Men: Apocalypse) are best friends and typical high-schoolers – they’re making plans for prom, their phones are bodily appendages, and they’re obsessed with their social media presence. They also share an interest in true crime via their “Tragedy Girls” blog, so of course they’re thrilled when a serial killer targets their town for a string of murders. While the rest of the town worries though the girls see an opportunity to take their brand to the next level.
Using a horny high-school boy as bait they set a trap for the killer (Kevin Durand), abduct him, and demand he share some tips on getting away with murder. The girls soon cut loose with bloody mayhem, but it turns out earning re-tweets and new followers takes more than just disemboweling and dismembering your classmates.
Director/co-writer Tyler MacIntyre’s latest is a wildly entertaining horror/comedy romp that feels exciting and original even as it channels imagery and ideas straight out of Tucker & Dale vs Evil, The Final Girls, Cannibal Holocaust, Halloween, and more. It’s a smart, funny ride that never shies away from the gooey red stuff – keep an eye out for the best gym-set practical gore effect since Death Spa – as the body count rises alongside the laughs and thrills.
Hildebrand and Shipp are terrifically vicious delights as budding sociopaths whose interest in popularity is the sole instinct guiding their actions outside of their friendship. There’s a tease of humanity in each of them, but don’t be fooled – they’re all about the murderous lolz. And who am I kidding, that’s part of what makes them irresistible. They’re snarky ladies, but both reveal strong comedic chops beyond their snappy, witty dialogue and extensive use of “hashtag,” “jelly,” and “hella.” Start planning now for an endlessly appealing “maniac pixie nightmare girl” double feature with the upcoming Thoroughbred (my review out of Sundance).
It’s a refreshing change of pace seeing high-school girls unencumbered by their relationship to boys. Their hearts are their own, and while they dabble with the dicks their true love remains each other as BFFs in life and death.
The girls are front and center, but MacIntyre crafts the world around them with a vibrant energy and style that surprises and captivates through to the end. Toss in a killer soundtrack, a pair of unexpectedly familiar faces, and an absolute and clear love for the genre and you have your next eminently re-watchable favorite. The third act is typically where too many horror/comedies (and horror films in general) lose their way, but while I would have loved to see a little more here it remains a highly satisfying and gleefully nihilistic denouement.
Tragedy Girls is pure bliss for those of us who love a skilled pairing of gore and guffaws. It’s all about the girl-power, and while these girls are using their power for devious and deadly means you can’t help but respect their ambition and initiative. Hashtag blessed.
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