SXSW 2017: “Tragedy Girls” Review by Ashley Menzel
Tragedy Girls is one of the last films I got to see at the SXSW Film Festival and what a way to end the fest! This film is an absolute blast from start to finish. The film tells the story of two young death-obsessed girls using their social media fame to bring chaos to this small town. The film is pitch perfect in tone. The film is set up as both satiric and humorous from the very beginning and continues throughout. It reminds me a lot of one of my favorite films of recent years, The Final Girls.
The film is an obvious commentary on social media status and fame in this highly technology driven society. The girls, McKayla (Alexandra Shipp) and Sadie (Brianna Hildebrand), are best friends working together to bring chaos to their small and sleepy town by orchestrating and planning out murders to feature on their blog, Tragedy Girls. They get help from their friend, Jordan (Jack Quaid) to help edit their videos as part of their blog. As the murders get more gruesome, the girls continue to gain fame and continue to up the ante. Let’s just say the payoff in the film is huge!
Tragedy Girls has some of the best murder scenes I’ve seen in a film in a long time. There is one scene where a body is chopped apart and pieces strategically placed around a woodshop, and it couldn’t have been better executed. The following scenes make these even better where there is casual joking about a heavy flow period or something else entirely insane. It is very apparent the grasp and commentary that the writers are making on the disassociation that today’s youth has between real life violence and what they see in the media.
The blood and gore in the film are definitely there but not overly done to make it a full out comedy. It is a perfect balance of comedy and gore that creates an extraordinary film all of its own. The casting in the film is spot-on. Alexandra Shipp gives this slightly unhinged character a real voice and brings her to life. Brianna Hildebrand holds her own as the seemingly saner friend but brings out the coldhearted bitch when needed. I can’t imagine a better casting than this.
Tragedy Girls is a horror gem with real moments of hilarity. Writers Chis Lee Hill and Tyler MacIntyre have struck gold here. The direction by Tyler MacIntyre is inspired and secures a place as one of my favorite horror directors of all time.