Heathers

Heathers (1988)

Director: Michael Lehmann

Genre: Black Comedy, Teen film, Comedy, Crime-Fiction

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Dear Diary: My teen angst bullshit now has a body count.

Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder) sells out her friends to become part of her high schools popular clique. Her new friends known as the Heathers, are a vicious clique that Veronica begins to hate. Heather Chandler is the queen Heather, Heather Duke follows closely behind her in terms of viciousness and finally there is Heather McNamara, potentially the only Heather with a soul. Veronica, is not a Heather by any means, not her name or personality. While the film tries to deliver her as the hero, it is perhaps the opposite that Veronica can be perceived. When Veronica is swayed by a charming, rebellious new student named Jason Dean, (JD) played by Christian Slater, she underestimates his outrageously brutal and psychopathic characteristics.

When Veronica and her new boyfriend kill her best friend/worst enemy Heather Chandler, in a mad panic they decide to create a fake suicide note and fled from the scene. Not long after this does another similar occurrence happen when two jocks decide to spread rumours about Veronica around the school. Jason convinces Veronica to lear the two boys out into the forest and shoot them with “fake” bullets. When Jason shoots one of the boys, Veronica realises that he is dead instantly, and yet continues to shoot the other boy. While Veronica insists that she did not intend for them to die, it would appear she knew these were the consequences. The spiral of deaths only continue from here, for which the two continue to frame as suicides.

The reality of the story is outrageously ridiculous, the lack of investigations by the police despite the amount of careless mistakes made by the Veronica and Jason, (Their fingerprints would have been at everyone of these murder scenes). Yet theres an ultimate ‘coolness’ about the film, predominately established by the performances of the main characters. Christian Slater gives his character a undeniably irresistible charm that Veronica would never be able to avoid, even when his psychopathic behaviour leads to him strapping a bomb to himself. Yet Winona Ryder shines throughout the film, suiting her role better than any actress could have. Winona’s gritty, edgy performance of Veronica becomes so realistic and pragmatic. Veronica somewhere becomes lost as  the lines blur between whether Veronica still has any good intentions of her actions or not. The two characters are complete anti-heroes, cruel in their actions and yet they’re one of the most electrifying and captivating Bonnie and Clyde protagonists that i’ve seen in any film.

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The script is incontestably freshly quotable. The highly identifiable world of Heathers addresses high-school popularity, and ‘”teen angst bullshit”in an imaginative way, combining dark, cynical themes revolving around murder and suicide. The film finishes on a note along the lines of “she murdered a few people, but she did learn a lesson so she’s free to go now”. It’s a film that will cause some controversial conversations, and will offend more than a minority of people but Heathers demonstrates that it is a film of its genre that is completely original and certainly pushes the boundaries.

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Heathers is by far one of the most exciting comedies i’ve seen in a undoubtably long time. The humour is unquestionably dark and well suited for a teenage audience. There’s something unsettling about watching Heathers and thoroughly enjoying the journey that Veronica goes on. Whether this film is brutally dark purely because it can be, or whether it’s truly trying to make a statement on the themes identified in the film is somewhat questionable, but undeniably entertaining to watch.

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