SXSW 2017 Review: ‘Tragedy Girls’ Is Feminist AF
Tragedy Girls is the next generation Scream that even Scream 4 couldn’t be. The Scream TV series got closer, but Tragedy Girls is the true millennial horror movie for the selfie generation.
Sadie Cunningham (Brianna Hildebrand) and McKayla Hooper (Alexandra Shipp), are the Tragedy Girls, vloggers obsessed with the morbid deaths of locals. It’s not an act though. They truly want to be the slashers in their own real-life horror movie. The social media presence is self-promotion.
Horror films predominantly cast women as the heroic survivors, the final girl who perseveres because of her moral fortitude. Occasionally women have been the killers. It was Jason’s mother who began the Friday the 13th saga after all, but it’s very progressive to make females the front and center protagonist killers. Tragedy Girls makes no apologies for them. Killing is what they’re into. It’s an active choice, not an involuntary response, and in a genre where the killer is the star of the franchise, that is important.
Their problem is that all of their murders look like accidents so they don’t get the credit. Killers used to want to get away with their crimes but today nothing happens unless it goes viral. Director Tyler MacIntyre handles social media intuitively on screen so it’s not aggressively in your face.
This movie has balls too. I mean, it’s rightfully tough to make a dark comedy about teenage violence post-Columbine. Who knows if even Heathers could play today? Tragedy Girls is this generation’s Heathers and it fits. If suicide was “cool” in the ‘80s, murder is where the 21st century is headed.
McKayla and Sadie have a lovely friendship too. Their macabre obsessions are adorable and the film has fun with teen angsty stereotypes in the supporting characters, like the brooding greasy biker rebel played by Josh Hutcherson.
As a horror fangirl movie, Tragedy Girls makes sound references. Surely you got the heroines’ last names, and they have Final Destination and Hannibal as their reference points where Randy and Ghostface had Halloween and Friday the 13th.
This movie has a great energy and what looks like practical gore makeup in its elaborate kills. I would love to see the Tragedy Girls become a franchise. Maybe Tragedy Girls Take Manhattan or Tragedy Girls Gone Wild. Now THAT would be a subversive take on a misogynistic genre.