Starring: Winona Ryder, Christian Slater, Shannen Doherty
Director: Michael Lehmann
Running Time: 103 mins
Heathers is an American film about a high school dominated by social rules and cliques, and one girl who meets a rebellious boy who convinces her to spark revolution in the hallways by killing the popular kids.
This is a film with good ideas, an original take on the high school genre and some decent performances. It starts off strong, but you’ve got to admit that it goes way overboard with its message and becomes totally preposterous and self-important, losing the intrigue and intelligence that was initially impressive.
Let’s talk about the best part of this film, the opening half an hour or so. Effectively, the establishing stages are a darker, funnier and more intelligent predecessor to Mean Girls. It’s all about the brutal high school hierarchy, cliques and the social pressure that all of the students experience.
Throughout that time, the characters talk about how ridiculous it is that ‘society’ forces people to act in certain ways and stay in their box, most of all in high school, and that, amidst the atmosphere of an intelligent black comedy is indeed interesting to watch, much more so than the one-dimensional Mean Girls.
However, the film then takes a dive into a more drastic, punchy and literal interpretation of its message of social revolution. Effectively, the whole idea of literally killing the ‘popular kids’ is completely preposterous, and it turns what was initially an interesting sort of social commentary into a simply stupid thriller sort of movie.
What’s more is that the story, as well as taking this ridiculously literal approach to the message, also becomes incredibly self-important and excessively ‘prophetic’.
The main two characters, played by Winona Ryder and Christian Slater are evidence for the failures of this approach. Ryder gives a strong performance as the girl who wants to break out of the social hierarchy, but just can’t, however she is still rational and intelligent enough not to want to kill others, which is the more interesting and impressive side to this film.
Slater, on the other hand, plays a weird sort of pseudo-rebel, Jack Nicholson wannabe who declares his predictions for this great uprooting of the social order by way of committing murder, staging suicides and all sorts of crimes, and that’s where it’s all both a bit silly, and quite pretentious, with this teenager droning on about his, and the film’s own allegedly important ideas of ‘society’ for the whole thing.
Overall, this gets a 6.4, because despite being an initially intriguing film with good ideas and some good potential, this turns into a silly, preposterous thriller with pompous self-proclamations.