Tragedy Girls is a 2017 horror satire about a dastardly duo of killer teenage girls set out for social media fame and redemption. The film proudly wears its teen slasher references on its sleeve while still creating something hilarious, interesting, and unique for the genre. Starring Brianna Hildebrand, Alexandra Shipp, Kevin Durand, and Jack Quaid the film examines online celebrity status and narcissism while dealing with cliched teenage conflicts. Gunpowder & Sky brings the film to Blu-ray with a satisfying A/V package and tons of bonus features for fans of the film. Recommended.
“We need to emphasize the upworthy-ness.”
Sadie (Brianna Hildebrand, Deadpool) and McKayla (Alexandra Shipp, X-Men: Apocalypse) are two seemingly normal millennial high schoolers who live on their phones, seek attention, and rag on each other's exes. In the after-hours, they're killing local kids to drum up followers on their overhyped true crime Twitter account @TragedyGirls in hopes of achieving serial killer fame with a matching social media status. When the girls kidnap a real serial killer in hopes of using him as a teacher the two find the process exhausting and go about slicing up whoever gets in their way. Things take a turn when their video editor Jordan (Jack Quaid, Logan Lucky) does some investigating on McKayla's past. Will his crush on Sadie will be reciprocated even if he accuses her best friend of MURDER?
The opening scene of the film gives us everything we need to know about Tragedy Girls. When a typical “lover’s lane” scene culminates with a dead boyfriend we aren’t met with the killer stalking the busty co-ed. Instead, the girls capture the hooded teen slayer and interrogate him. This scene feeds us clues that subverts not only our expectations of the outcome but also the girls themselves as we see their blossoming careers as killers through their unique POV.
At school, Sadie and McKayla promote their brand at a breakneck pace hoping to gain more traffic to their vlog. Likes, views, retweets, and followers are the tangible way for them to gauge success not only as killers but also as attention-driven teenagers. These keenly drawn characters personify the lack of empathy gained from constant social media interaction. Thankfully MacIntyre and Hill are never preachy about the ills of social media addiction but rather use the unique relationships at play to explore it.
As you might expect, the crux of this high school film relies on prom. What kind of film would this be if it didn’t worship at the altar of Prom Night? Prom committee plays such an integral role here being the constant excuse for late nights out and whenever the murderous teens need an instant alibi. Prom may seem like an unlikely thing for these two career killers out for social media fame, but it will mark the end of their time as local killers and their transition to a bigger vision outside their town. While Tragedy Girls works in homages and references at its core it still remains a teen movie that needs a social anchor to level the playing field with the other kids in town. It may be “off-brand” for them to actually care about prom but it allows this entertaining satire to find a home with all other teen horror movies of its ilk. Where the film succeeds is in creating likable characters out of the murderous and exhausting teenagers.
Performances are effective and memorable from the cast. Brianna and Alexandra are keenly aware of how these girls navigate their narcissist layers behind fake smiles. Their commitment to the characters is what makes this whole thing gel. Supporting cast all hand in their homework on time with passing grades.. Josh Hutcherson and Craig Robinson are surprising additions here offering their own brand of comedic relief. Kill scenes and gore effects are better than expected with plenty of gushing blood and creative kills that offer loads of practical details within the severed heads, sliced throats, and exposed brains. While never lingering on the gore there is enough here for slasher fans to gush over.
Without the inspired kills and weird humor Tragedy Girls would be lost in the ether of teen horror flicks borrowing from the likes of Heathers and the criminally underappreciated Jawbreaker. Thankfully MacIntyre works equally well within character subtlety and over-the-top brashness. There's some arresting imagery here and a wild color palette that keeps the downtime spent with the insufferable teens bearable. Tyler MacIntyre has something special here and I can’t wait to see what else he can bring to the horror conversation.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Tragedy Girls arrives on Blu-ray thanks to Vinegar Syndrome and Gunpowder & Sky. The disc is housed in a transparent keepcase with reversible artwork. A limited edition slipcover is available through Vinegar Syndrome. Loading the disc offers the Gunpowder & Sky logo before landing on the Main Menu screen with scenes from the film playing behind typical navigation options.
With a 1080p HD image in the film’s original 2.39:1 aspect ratio Tragedy Girls looks fit for prom. Blacks are inky and deep offering plenty of fine detail during nighttime scenes like Toby’s motorcycle accident and the march for Al. Primaries are strong with reds and blues showing life within blood spurts and the barrage of bulletin boards, lockers, and other high school set decorations. Fine detail is evident within facial features and costuming on closeup and medium shots. Some sequences lose clarity in-motion. Interior daytime scenes are brightly lit and well defined with surprising depth.
Previously self released as a BD-R from Gunpowder & Sky in 2018, this new Blu-ray in partnership with Vinegar Syndrome offers improved authoring, an increased bitrate, and more special features. Fans should upgrade to this release before the tardy bell rings.
The lone audio track is a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix that handles the proceedings confidently. Filled with upbeat rock/pop the audio mix embraces music cues allowing them to overpower the soundstage often. LFE kicks in quite a bit from rockin’ tracks to the punchy hits for staplers and gruesome kill scenes. Dialogue is clear and clean without hiss or distortion occupying the center channel prominently. Ominous music floods the feature making every moment a bit exhausting. The mix is front heavy with little creative use of surround channels or even between front channels honestly. Music and larger set pieces with effects will trickle to the rear with minimal impact. Volume levels fluctuate scene to scene dramatically so keep your volume set midway to hear the dialogue but be ready for the music cues.
Selecting the Extras option from the Main Menu brings up two columns of special features that fill your entire screen. Gunpowder & Sky have outdone themselves here. Commentaries, camera tests, raw footage, and storyboards are just the tip of the iceberg.
Tragedy Girls is a funny horror satire with committed performances and loads of references to your favorite teen movies of yesteryear. Utilizing a relevant slant on social media that connects with killer instinct, director MacIntyre injects the film with plenty of relatable teen cliches and “Final Destination-esque” kills with success. Vinegar Syndrome / Gunpowder & Sky bring the film to Blu-ray with a solid A/V package and loads of special features for fans of the film. Recommended.