October 5, 2017

VIFF 2017 | Killing is Cool – 'Tragedy Girls' Slashes x Rio Grind

"I'd rather die."
VIFF 2017 | Alexandra Shipp Craig Robinson Tyler MacIntyre | Tragedy Girls

VIFF 2017Tragedy Girls, starring Alexandra Shipp and Brianna Hildebrand as our serial killer high school heroines, is an entirely entertaining comedy riff on the slasher movie genre. Director Tyler MacIntyre turns the tables, setting our two social media obsessed female leads as the aggressors and instigators of violence, as they wreak havoc on their school and small midwestern town.

Grounded in a twisted ideal of female friendship, Shipp and Hildebrand as McKayla and Sadie own the screen with some interesting chemistry and relationship dynamics. Shipp, in particular, is revelatory shifting in tones, mannerisms, and emotions in an entirely charismatic, star-turning role. Hildebrand proves her ability to carry some messy narrative material to move the typical genre conventions forward while both are able to revel in being deliciously evil without trouble.

Scripted by MacIntyre and Chris Lee Hill, the film is a fairly efficient and satisfying Scream meets Heathers style take on teen horror from the point of view of the killers. In many ways, it's far more satisfying as a self-aware teen high school comedy than it is a convoluted killer-on-the-loose fright fest with its bright and sparkly bubblegum sheen and copious in-jokes. It both embraces and mocks its own genre clichés.

VIFF 2017 | Alexandra Shipp Brianna Hildebrand Tyler MacIntyre | Tragedy Girls

Produced by comedian Craig Robinson (who also appears), the cast is a pleasant assembly of familiar faces and likeable character actors. Josh Hutcherson gives an absurdly funny extended cameo as the vapid, motorcycle-riding pretty boy everyone loves. Jack Quaid as Sadie's (very older looking) love interest does his best to ground the crazy, murderous antics around him while his father and town sheriff (a grizzled Timothy V. Murphy) serves the stereotypical town cop role.

Tragedy Girls offers one of the more appealing teen movie experiences in recent memory by scratching various genre convention itches in a neat little millennial aimed package. Its energy and sophisticated take on well-worn material with various pop culture references and social media ticks make for a wholly fun time.

Tragedy Girls screened at the 2017 Vancouver International Film Festival as part of the Altered States stream. It also screens at the Rio Grind Film Festival at the Rio Theatre.

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