Tragedy Girls (2017) [Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival 2017]

Two teenage girls obsessed with death and horror movies are building their online reputation. To do so, they exploit local deaths and events in their small town.

Based on an original screenplay by Justin Olson, Tragedy Girls is written by Chris Lee Hill and director Tyler MacIntyre. Together, this team builds a film that is part Mean Girls, part Heathers, part Scream, with a dusting of Ginger Snaps and Scream Queens. The film built here has many influences which is wears on its bloody sleeve and uses them to good effect creating a story set in high school, before prom, starting with a slasher getting caught and building with two girls trying to get fame from bad events and others’ suffering. The film creates a friendship between these two girls that is fun to watch and feel somewhat natural. They are popular girls but also into their own thing and not really the usually HBCs of high school. The two of them have an unhealthy obsession with death and getting famous to advance their agenda. They have odd ideas as to how to achieve this and don’t give up easily. They are typical, goal-minded teenagers with way too much time on their hands and very lax parents who don’t worry all that much about what they are up to. This leads to an interesting take on slasher, horror, and fame, all mixed together with the usual teenage angst and issues seen in high schools.

Playing the Tragedy Girls (with an s) are Brianna Hildebrand as Sadie Cunningham and Alexandra Shipp as McKayla Hooper. The both of them give interesting performances, especially Hilderand who looks to have a more nuanced style. Ship gives a good performance but has moments where the acting is a bit much and feels like over acting or hamming it up a bit. Playing the generic slasher, who is referred to as such, is Kevin Durand who does great work here playing the not so bright but definitely lethal Lowell. His performance is fun to watch and ads an unpredictable angle to the film.

As Tragedy Girls is a humoristic and caustic a bit take on slashers, the kills here are important. And they are fun! Here the kills are not particularly numerous, but they are enjoyable on a messed-up and bloody way. One in particular is really bloody and cool as hell (or is that hella?). The effects here are mostly practical with nods to other films including a very surprising one about halfway in. The effects here are bloody, a little bit gross, and just right for a slasher almost-send-up. The film uses them sparingly and the blood flows freely when it needs to. The grossness is there but not excessively so. It works as a slasher and a serial killer film on this front.

Tragedy Girls is one of those definitely self-aware horror-comedies that runs on dark humor and blood. The kills are fun, the high school setting works, the characters are interesting and not particularly annoying for teenagers (especially to an older viewer like this reviewer), and the film is entertaining. Tragedy Girls brings new life in the slasher sub-genre by spinning it on its head like Scream did and like Scream Queens wishes it had.

Tragedy Girls is playing at the Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival on Friday, September 29th. Tickets can be purchased at https://filmfreeway.com/festival/PhiladelphiaUnnamedFilmFestival/tickets