TRAGEDY GIRLS [FrightFest UK Premiere Review]

PrintE-mail Written by John Higgins

The undercurrent of nostalgia for triumphs past in horror was clear for all to see with the last three films of the festival, with Better Watch Out aping the likes of Black Christmas and Silent Night, Deadly Night, The Terror Of Hallow’s Eve evoking the best of the Halloween franchise – and the Closing Night film on the Monday evening, Tragedy Girls, tapping into the dark side of high school mentality clear in films like Carrie and Heathers.

FrightFest fans will always look to the first and last films of the festival to get a sense of what the tempo and tone was going to be. Cult Of Chucky was a perfect opener, a franchise favourite that took Chucky and the series in a new direction. The Closing Night film, Tragedy Girls, had its moments; though, to this writer, it did run out of steam towards the end.

Sadie (Brianna Hildebrand) and McKayla (Alexandra Shipp) are feisty, energetic teens with a high social media profile and the desire to achieve the greatest following on Twitter. A little more catty and extreme than the Heather clique in Michael Lehmann’s late 1980s classic, they have trapped a notorious serial killer with a desire to get him to help them carry out their vicious plan. Before long, the more popular Kens and Barbies in the school are getting theirs, amidst the inquisitive nature of the teachers they are learning from…

The film certainly starts off well and the two lead actresses pave the way with their wonderfully positive and fizzy charisma that offsets their dark and deadly deeds. Hildebrand and Shipp have got the right blend of looks and talent that will see them head in new directions if they are given the right opportunities in the future. Director Tyler MacIntyre has potential to be the new Kevin Williamson.

It will be interesting to see what the reaction will be when this film gets a general release.

We must remember that we are watching a movie like this for pure entertainment. The most astute observation about the context of this film is that within all this, the culture of high school has changed somewhat since the release of Heathers and we must remind ourselves that death and tragedy in high school is all the more real than it was back in the 1980s. Recent events like The Dark Knight cinema tragedy and Columbine have highlighted how fragile life is. In the UK, with all manner of terror attacks and the use of social media, we understand that as much.

We am not saying that films like Tragedy Girls should not be made any more. Filmmakers have a duty to convey the dark messages and subtexts of life. Equally, we should all give ourselves the opportunity to live lives as positively as possible. Horror remains alive as ever and films like Tragedy Girls still need to be given the platform to be made.

TRAGEDY GIRLS [UK PREMIERE] / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: TYLER MACINTYRE / SCREENPLAY: CHRIS LEE HILL, TYLER MACINTYRE/ STARRING: BRIANNA HILDEBRAND, ALEXANDRA SHIPP, JOSH HUTCHERSON / RELEASE DATE: UK RELEASE DATE TBA



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