Saturday, October 14, 2017

Tragedy Girls Leads The Charge Of Teenage Horror For The 21st Century


Graveyard Shift Sisters is honored to be highlighting the variety of selected films from 2017's Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, "committed to celebrating the art of horror filmmaking...focused on pushing horror’s boundaries to challenge the genre’s preconceptions." We are covering films that feature women of color leads and one or two that dig into our horror-loving hearts!


October 17, 1997, I walked the short two block distance straight between the movie theater and my home completely drenched in a teenage adrenaline rush. My allowance money, half a grain of I Know What You Did Last Summer's box office success, set off a wave of Friday night horror theater outings I didn't get to experience with the 80's slashers I watched on HBO. This night stands out so much because of its revelation that horror was that special part of my identity that I would healthily obsess over.

These were the kind of moments that help me today, now as some sort of halfway decent horror journalist, understand and hope that a film like Tragedy Girls will have a similar effect. I'm beginning with the younger movie audience here because, this is exactly the kind of movie that would've given me that same feeling, were I 14 going on 15 again. But that's not to say that Tragedy Girls won't be enjoyed by all. It's dark camp, self-awareness, and intelligent sociopathic pair Sadie Cunningham (Brianna Hildebrand) and McKayla Hooper (Alexandra Shipp) have an old school edge to their destruction while feeding the ever starving social media prominence bubble.

The obsession with hashtags and serial killers help propel their online brand when a series of murders plague their middle America town. The interesting fright factor is less the meta- slasher element but more, the commentary hiding in Sadie and McKayla's ability to delight towards a macabre modus operandi for digital stardom. What strengthens this narrative is the relatable bond Shipp and Hildebrand are able to muster for their characters, mimicking our own youth of extreme, emotionally-driven decision making with a equally heavy dose of goal-driven cleverness. High school friendships are commonly shaky because they are often finite. You begin to realize (even if internally fought) you will change and this four year routine will blink by. Writers Chris Lee Hill and Tyler MacIntyre (who also directed) are able to zero in on these vulnerabilities with an injection of smartphone technology. Shipp's McKayla stands out as the entitled smartass who, for all of her arrogance, has a sympathetic peel to her mischievous persona. Hildebrand's Sadie fiddling with the social stratum of their small town life that makes the third act of the story delightfully unpredictable.

An overall fun series of frames, more glam than goth, with bright visual choices and wicked killing spree masks that I actually want for my own Halloween costume, Tragedy Girls manages to unabashedly pay homage to the films the older crowd will be comparing it to without stripping away its original flare and attraction for teenagers currently unable to look up from their phones for five minutes. Certainly for Tragedy Girls, they will.




Tickets for the midnight screening of Tragedy Girls at Nitehawk Cinema are sold out!

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