Tragedy Girls is tightly paced, packed with humor, and offers just enough surprises (read: unexpectedly gruesome deaths) to elevate it far above other post-Scream teen slasher entries.
Sadie (Brianna Hildebrand) and McKayla (Alexandra Shipp) are high schoolers with big plans for their senior year: to create the most share-worthy content for “Tragedy Girls,” their social media brand. In this case, the trending content is murder. Bonded by a common sociopathy (and wicked sense of style), the girls craft their own killing spree in the days leading up to prom.
On paper, I wasn’t thrilled with the whole “Scream for the Instagram generation” premise. However, it’s a deserving description of a slasher-inspired tale that treads familiar meta territory. Stripping away the savvy pop culture references and genre winks, there’s a charming story about teenage friendship underneath.
While the film plays more for comedy than scares, it respects the weight of the teenage BFF dynamic by positioning Sadie and McKayla’s relationship front and center. The strength of the film rests on the chemistry and likeability of the leads. Though the performances occasionally venture into theatrics, the showy dialogue is reigned in with the charm of Hildebrand and Shipp. It’s difficult to resist cheering on their extracurricular behavior.
Just as the girls rack up followers on Twitter and Instagram, their relationship becomes strained. They wrestle to balance their friendship with romance, ambition and popularity. Is there some appeal to being one of the sheep instead of the wolf after all? As many adolescent misfits can relate, Sadie and McKayla endure conflicting feelings: the allure of acceptance and the desire to simply be oneself…even if that self is a blood-thirsty psychopath.
Despite its inherently subversive premise, Tragedy Girls doesn’t go far enough. Yes, I found myself pleasantly off-put by clever gore gags, but I was rarely surprised by a character moment, plot twist, or some new perspective on social media. The film relies on too many high school movie conventions and personality tropes. Its world felt stuck in a commercial, theatrical framework.
Even though it’s surface level fun, Tragedy Girls is a damn good time. If you’re into wacky Final Destination deaths and the meta humor of Scream, then this one is all for you. And if you’re not into those things, then give it a shot anyway, because #YOLO.