Skip to main content

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

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-focused 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.

Popular posts from this blog

28 Black Women Horror Filmmakers

1. Zandashé Brown, Blood Runs Down (2018) 2. Raeshelle Cooke, Last Words (2015) 3. Tamara S. Hall, A Night At The Table (2019) 4. R. Shanea Williams, Paralysis (2015) 5. Monica Moore-Suriyage, Black In Red Out (2016)

How MIDSOMMAR Utilizes and Subverts Horror Movie Tropes of People of Color

By Mary Kay McBrayer ( @mkmcbrayer ) For a film that could have been easily white-washed, Ari Aster’s Midsommar does have an inclusive cast. Before our characters are even taken to Sweden where most of the film's dread fueled action takes place, we meet them in their college town. Dani (Florence Pugh) stresses about her sister’s scary email while her boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor) drinks at a bar with his buddies, only one of whom is black named Josh ( The Good Place 's William Jackson Harper). I have watched enough horror movies to know—and I’ve been brown enough long enough to know—that this setting does not bode well for a person of color. The token minority, say it with me, tends to die first. Because of this ratio, I expected a few other established tropes of the horror genre in Josh’s character, too, and I have to admit, I was delighted and surprised that nothing played out the way I expected.

Looking Back & Hoping Forward: Candyman

Candyman has been a delicate enigma, a tale, a very tepid preoccupation of mine since I was ten. It began with the gold glare of the sun through my mother’s bedroom window. Her often condensed space, accentuated by the imposing almost Beetlejuice-inspired black furniture, stationary yet bustling clutter; both new acquisitions and relics from a time before me. And her “bulbous” television as she would call the appliance, positioned central in her reliance on its distractions from her ever 40+ hour work weeks and (even with the father of her two youngest in the apartment), raising three children on her own. It faced her queen-size, perched on a dresser-storage hybrid. Likely, the time was Fall, possibly a video store rental. Sure, no one’s around, I’ll watch Candyman, why not. I had been watching films like Hellraiser since I was about six.