The desire to be revered, remembered, and loved are some of the most powerful shared by human beings, and exist as equally powerful motivators entrenched within the human experience. Often time, these desires drive us towards reaching our greatest achievements and realizing our full potential - the welcome irony in that what could be perceived as selfish wants, do in fact turn out beneficial, inspiring those around as a result of the acts propelled by them.
And then there is the other side to that. A much darker side.
Framed against mania and obsession, and motivated by superficiality - even if the desires themselves are pure in nature or born from some level of goodness, can still very much lead to an absolutely disastrous, if not deadly outcome. Or, if the ones looking to fulfill these desires are simply...broken, positive fortune is then inevitably turned into, Tragedy. Tyler MacIntyre's mean-spirited - yet playful - feature is a darkly sardonic examination of this; through the lens of modern social media culture, it ultimately asks some very disturbing, very relevant questions.
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.
Brianna Hildebrand and Alexandra Shipp (both of which coincidentally, have starring roles in X-men related films) do an admirable job playing the titular BFF partners-in-crime Sadie Cunningham and McKayla Hooper. Their ping-ponging glib, proudly brandished irreverence, and combined obsession with social media status comes across as the flimsy, worrying kind of shallow infrastructure on which their relationship is formed; at least on the surface. You wouldn't have guessed it given their common vice, but the glue which bonds their friendship together is surprisingly potent - and given the frequency at which the film attempts to drive a wedge between them, it seems to be an especially important part of the overall narrative. In fact, it very clearly is, and by the film's end, the "Tragedy" in Tragedy Girls will have gained much more meaning than it initially started with.
Now, there's an obvious attempt at keeping things light, evidenced by the tongue-in-cheek script, the frivolous way in which violence and death are tackled, and the caricature-like cliche of a supporting cast; and it's wholly appreciated given the subject matter, but the skin-deep smiles and winks that Tragedy Girls likes to wear on its sleeve work doubly so as indicators for the darker nature of the film's themes. Remember earlier the questions I alluded to, and the concepts they're framed against? "How do we measure self worth?", "Who will remember me when I'm gone?" "What am I, if not the likes on my Facebook posts?" "What's wrong with having heroes?" Context is key here. Otherwise what seem like harmless - yet important - questions, become tainted with a chilling cause and even more chilling answers. "By taking a count of our victims", "Those we've destroyed, and their loved ones", "A sociopath", and "Nothing, except when it's Ted Bundy and Ed Gein".
...this review sounds bleak and mopey, but it wasn't intended to, I swear. In fact, this was easily one of the best horror films I've seen in the past few months, so ultimately a very positive experience. It's just that it's hard to ignore the obvious, or at least what I believe to be the obvious. Perhaps there's some projection here, given how much this site - which is a deep love of mine - relies on the proliferation of social media and exposure within (those likes and shares really do matter, right?). Not to mention it being rooted in horror...
...Tragedy Girls almost feels like an admonishment, one which hits pretty close to home. And much like Sadie and McKayla's victims, I honestly didn't see it coming.
Having grown up in the 90's, my love for horror movies is completely formed by the type that have come out that decade. For instance, the Scream and I know What You Did Last Summer franchises which, by today's standards, probably count as some of the corniest movies out there, count as total classics for me. And the same goes for any other 90's defining horror film, I really just adore them all - even the ones that aren't necessarily made in the 90's. If you're like me and happened to watch All Cheerleaders Die, The Final Girls and The Babysitter more than once, then you are surely going to see certain similarities with Tragedy Girls, which features the same quirky touch. And if you haven't guessed it, this is assuredly a good thing.
Here, we follow best friends McKayla Hooper and Sadie Cunningham, two teenage crime reporters who will do anything in their power to become internet-famous social media queens. It's a fun flick where two delusional narcissistic girls manage to fool a community into supporting their own murderous misadventures. It also shows to which lengths some people are willing to go in order to become "a somebody", online. But the question is, how far will these BFF's go to achieve their ultimate goal of stardom? Additionally, will they forever be two peas in a pod, or is someone trying to drive them apart?
Maybe you came for the horror and gore - I guess I initially did too - but when you mix the dark with morbid comedy, things are instantly made better, and heavy themes become much easier to swallow. Not unlike real life; humor helps us move through dark times. Tragedy Girls is like a modern version of the late 80's Heathers and late 90's Jawbreaker, but with more blood. To detail further, it's a weird mix between Tina Fey's Mean Girls, and the witty cheerfulness of Diablo Cody's Juno; I really enjoyed it.