Friday, January 26, 2018

Glam Gals of Gore: Tragedy Girls (2017)

Tragedy Girls (2017)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Brianna Hildebrand, Alexandra Shipp, Jack Quaid

I have to admit that when I first read about Tragedy Girls' plot, I wasn't too impressed. I mean, from the sound of it, the film could have been something between the lines of Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon meets Mean Girls, only not one part mockumentary and probably more bitch talk from two self-absorbed sociopath narcissists. But after watching it, that might not be such a bad thing after all.

Sadie and McKayla are two high school BFFs who like to do normal high school stuff like cheerleading, planning for prom and obsess over social media. Especially obsess over social media. Also known collectively as the Tragedy Girls, they run a blog dedicated to all things involving death including serial killers and spree killers and, desperate for internet fame, the duo decided to take drastic measures to get their site trending by offing a few people to stir up some controversy around their usually quiet town.

And controversy arrives in the form of a masked slasher named Lowell, who the girls lure into the deep woods and kidnap in hopes of becoming their mentor. But when the slasher refuses to teach them, Sadie and McKayla have no choice but to continue their own murder spree and put the blame on the very killer they captured, all while soaking in the attention as they play the town by acting as concerned individuals. Things were going according to plan until Lowell escapes and, after an incident involving a home invasion, Sadie becomes a hero of sorts. Could this unexpected turn of events lead to something better for the duo? Or something gorily worse?

Tragedy Girls sets itself to break and rehash a classic slasher story into a craft that's both avoiding the usual hack' n stab cliches while diving into them once in a while. For the most parts, the film resembles more of a dark teen comedy such as the likes of Heathers (1988) and Jawbreaker (1999) where we get to observe and explore the exploits and struggles of our two snappy leads who, by all means, are just adorable little monsters. Deadpool (2016)'s Brianna Hildebrand and X-Men: Apocalypse‘s Alexandra Shipp did a splendid job playing their duo with much pizzazz and sharp tongue, their banter coming out strangely natural despite spatting out topics of torture and mayhem, so much so that we can't help but cheer for them as they off those they see as wronging them, from ex-boyfriends who could be stealing their "death is tragically beautiful" shtick, to local fire marshals doubling as a small town celebrities.

Rooting for these girls is also made easy thanks to the comical build-up to their murders, which mostly lead to some pretty cool practical effects and gory results, something we gorehounds could always look forward to after chuckling at how adorkably amateur these girls can be at times with their murder spree. Highlights to their carnage include a tag team tackle against a tough stout target that ends with a nod to a certain barbell kill at Happy Birthday To Me (1981), and a Final Destination-friendly demise to end a loud mouth.

If there will be any shortcomings I need to point out, it'll be the fact that Tragedy Girls could have been deeper and complex considering much of the focus is on the girls and the empire of fame they are building out of the deaths. What's is further disappointing is that halfway into the movie, it did look like it was going for that direction but it was rushed and done over way too quickly before we could even go deeper. This opportunity wasted, the resulting finale is all things predictable and open ended, a part of it could have been way more shocking for me if it wasn't for the little hints our two sociopaths have been dropping (why are they so insistent for prom to happen?) as well as some questionable marketing done. (Don't click me 'coz spoilers)

And then there's Kevin Durand as Lowell. Man, he kinda just sat there, didn't he? I mean, yeah, he's supposed to be just one of the plot tools that threatens the bond between Sadie and McKayla, but could you imagine how things would have turned out if he accepted the offer to mentor these girls as a serial killing duo? What if he started picking favorites or have hidden motives behind teaching them, testing the girls of who to trust and to betray? I bet my butt that would have made a decent slasher right there, but the resulting product opted to go with an easier direction as a quippy horror film and, while many chances to better itself were missed, it's still far from bad.

That said, Tragedy Girls is a fun little devil of a dead teenager flick. It may not have much context apart from simply being a millennial-oriented horror flick, but it is entertaining for its worth and often a bit too cute and preppy than it should be. Is that twisted? Yes, yes it is and I like it!

1 male hacked on the face with a machete, smothered
1 male stabbed to death with a hunting knife
1 female had her head ran through a buzzsaw
1 male had his head crushed by a dropped weight lift
1 female found skewered through a pole
1 female knifed through the gut, throat slashed
1 female killed in car crash (flashback)
1 male shot on the head
1 male hanged
124+ victims caught inside a burning gymnasium
Total: 135+

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