“Tragedy Girls” is a “Heathers” for the social media age. Or that’s its aim.
Director/co-writer Tyler MacIntyre takes aim at a youth culture that’s all about “likes” and page-views and branding, and parks a couple of pretty, heartless horror fangirls right in the middle of it.
They’re sure to make a bloody mess.
“Heavy flow day,” McKayla explains.
“You want to make an omelet, you have to kill some ex-boyfriends,” Sadie says.
Brianna Hildebrand and Alexandra Shipp play witty BFFs at Rosedale High, cruel teens who aren’t above using hapless boys to lure a suspected machete killer out on the “old” covered bridge so they can kidnap him — after he’s butchered the kid Sadie pretends to make out in the car with.
Stripped of his mask, Lowell (Kevin Durand) is an unthinking brute. The girls may know the difference between “serial” killers and “spree” killers, but not him (or American media, for that matter).
“We’re your biggest fans, dude. We need a trainer, a teacher — Yoda!”
They want to turn into “horror legends.” For a laugh. They’ve watched every movie, absorbed every disposing-of-a-body-via-chemistry lesson of “Breaking Bad.”
“It took a LOT of stray cats and dogs to get this formula JUST right”
They plan on turning what the sheriff (Timothy V. Murphy) won’t tell the town into a social media sensation. “Lowell” (Durand) has killed multiple people. Sadie and McKayla plan to add to that number, butchering exes, hated classmates, whoever, and “report” it on their Tragedy Girls blog — “Hashtag #tragedygirls!” — and get famous.
Just like the Kardashians!
Tbe captured serial killer angle is then forgotten all through the movie’s middle acts as the self-absorbed/selfie-obsessed teens plot first to commit a few murders. But nobody dies easily, so they casually administer a different coup de grace to each victim. Their learning curve involves making sure that the deaths can’t be dismissed as “accidents,” which the first few are.
Their goal — to get the whole “spree killer” gossip they’re creating out in the open so their Internet fame can be assured.
“Hashtag ‘tragedygirls’ they repeat, to everybody they meet — especially the media.
An ex-boyfriend, played by Josh Hutcherson, re-masculated after the emasculation of “The Hunger Games,” runs a competing blog and rides a motorcycle? He gots to go.
“I could see it as a ‘Death Proof’ kind of thing. I could TOTALLY work with that”
The fireman Big Al (Craig Robinson) is a threat? Let’s meet him at the gym.
It’s a glib, heartless affair, this business of achieving “the recognition we deserve.” Once you get the point, the numbed-to-violence inhumanity of Generation Web Fame, the never-a-thought for anybody else narcissism, the joke wears thin.
Once you’ve been shocked at a bloody dismemberment, that shock is past.
The relationship will be tested, but not by an outside romance that grabs us.
The banter is snarky, snappy and wickedly funny. But the story arc is flatly horror movie imitative (sort of the point, but yawn). Supporting performances are wildly uneven (Robinson and Durand give fair value, virtually nobody else does).
And while Hldebrand (“Deadpool”) and Shipp (“Straight Outta Compton,” “X-Men: Apocalypse”) flash a little slang and dress for fanboy appeal, their performances strike just one note. As does the movie.
Pathos? Remorse? “Learning?” Not here.
“Tragedy Girls” is “Heathers” without the just desserts (virtually no one “deserves” his or her fate), “Mean Girls” who don’t truly turn on each other, a slasher satire without a punchline.
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody horror violence, and language including some sexual references
Cast: Brianna Hildebrand, Alexandra Shipp, Josh Hutcherson, Craig Robinson, Kevin Durand
Running time: 1:38