A twist on the slasher genre, following two death-obsessed teenage girls who use their online show about real-life tragedies to send their small mid-western town into a frenzy and cement their legacy as modern horror legends. – (Source)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 81% (Critics) / 70% (Audience)
MetaScore: 58 – Mixed or average reviews
Directed By: Tyler MacIntyre
Written By: Chris Lee Hill and Tyler MacIntyre
Starring: Brianna Hildebrand, Alexandra Shipp, Jack Quaid and Kevin Durand
Studio: Gunpowder & Sky
The message that resonated most with me from TRAGEDY GIRLS, more than the cynical view of the current generation of teenagers being social media obsessed self-marketing machines on steroids or the criticism of sensationalism in our media, is the fact that this is a movie about a deep and abiding friendship between the two main characters of Sadie (Brianna Hildebrand from DEADPOOL) and McKayla (Alexandra Shipp from X-MEN: APOCALYPSE). The friendship between these two teenage maniacs is quite endearing and shows all the ups and downs that comes with being teenage girls navigation through high school life in the social media age. Sure the two girls are also psychopaths but excluding that I felt their friendship was one of the best examples of its kind between teenage girls I have seen in awhile.
The nimble way that director Tyler MacIntyre was able to balance the horror with the comedy and camp is notable too. A lot of horror-comedies have a hard time finding that delicate balance and MacIntyre does a great job especially when you take into account how little directing experience he has. And the gore is wonderful. If you love over-the-top horror then this is the movie for you because the way people die is both horrific and hilarious.
Special kudos goes out to Alexandra Shipp and Kevin Durand who were the standout acting performances in TRAGEDY GIRLS. Durand, as the hulking Jason Voorhees/Michael Myers inspired murderer who was in the middle of his rampage before being derailed by Sadie and McKayla, is such a big goof who is not nearly as bright as horror fans have come to expect their massive silent killers to be. His Lowell is constantly being outsmarted by the girls and even when he thinks he is in charge it is so obvious to everyone else that he is being played. It is a funny and novel approach to the slasher character and I was all for it.
And then there is Alexandra Shipp’s McKayla. I have been aware of Shipp for a while now (since the goofy teen mystery show HOUSE OF ANUBIS actually) and I have never thought she was a bad actress but I never thought she was all that good either. She has just been serviceable in everything I had seen her in up to this point. But in TRAGEDY GIRLS she is a powerhouse who owns every scene she is in and tends to dwarf her co-stars in terms of raw energy. Shipp has what is the definition of a break-through performance and I hope this leads to her getting more chances to show what she can do.
This movie had a seriously hard time figuring out how to make Sadie and McKayla’s actions show as truly horrible and worthy of condemnation. The two girls were too often shown to be cool and the awful things they did as cutesy instead of legitimately condemning their actions. As much as I liked both character they were serial killers and at some point they should have become the villains of the piece instead of the movie stringing the viewer along with the promise of these girls getting some sort of comeuppance but at the end just deciding they were too likable to make into true bad guys.
Jack Quaid as A/V nerd Jordan Welch was the oldest looking highschooler since the heyday of Dylan McKay and Steve Sanders on BEVERLY HILLS 90210. I don’t know how old the guy really is but he looks like he has a wife, 2.5 kids, a job he hates and 2 mortgages on a 3-story house in the suburbs.
Final Verdict: A more bloodthirsty HEATHERS for Generation Z that buried within all the gore, violence and dark humor rests a girl power message that is endearing even if the girls in question are depraved monsters. Well worth seeking out for fans of the horror genre and even those who aren’t.