A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Tragedy Girls is a dark but savvy horror-comedy about two high school girls who seek internet fame by committing murders and blaming them on a real-life serial killer. There's a ton of gory violence, with many gruesome killings: stabbing, slicing, hanging, shooting, etc., as well as other disturbing images. Some of it is presented as comical, but it's still really bloody. Teens kiss and flirt (sometimes with older characters), and there are references to "hand jobs." Sex between adults is implied. Language is extremely strong, with frequent uses of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and more. Expect lots of references to social media and online brands, including Amazon, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram. It raises interesting questions about social media that will be relevant to teens.
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What's the story?
In TRAGEDY GIRLS, small-town best friends McKayla (Alexandra Shipp) and Sadie (Brianna Hildebrand) are obsessed with becoming social media/internet stars. Fortunately for them, a local serial killer named Lowell (Kevin Durand) is on the loose. Through persistence and planning, they catch him and lock him up. The girls then begin murdering more locals, posting it all online, and blaming Lowell. Things take a turn when their video editor, Jordan (Jack Quaid), starts showing that he has feelings for Sadie, driving a wedge between the friends. Worse, when Sadie accidentally saves Jordan and helps stop an escaped Lowell, she becomes a role model rather than a celebrity. But McKayla has big plans for the senior prom that might just help set the girls back on their original path.
Is it any good?
Though it owes a great deal to other social media-obsessed movies, this dark comedy still has enough fresh venom and crazy cleverness to make it a fresh satirical entertainment. With Tragedy Girls, director/co-writer Tyler MacIntyre has enough courage to focus on characters who aren't perfectly likable or admirable (it's reminiscent of Heathers in that way), using their friendship -- and their struggles to maintain that friendship -- as an anchor. It's not so much that we're rooting for the girls to become internet famous, but we'd like them to stay by each other's side. (When the so-called "good" character interferes, it feels more like a betrayal than a moment of heroism.)
Amazingly, the movie is bright and slick, without relying on gobs of social media imagery; it stays rooted in the present and in the characters. The supporting cast is uniformly strong, from Durand as the sneering, cackling killer to Craig Robinson as an iron-pumping firefighter and Nicky Whelan as a duplicitous teacher. Especially funny is Josh Hutcherson, viciously satirizing his teen heartthrob image with the help of some well-placed music cues. But it's Shipp and Hildebrand's show (they're both part of the X-Men movie universe), and they know how to run it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Tragedy Girls' violence. What is the tone of the violent moments? How do the filmmakers make death seem funny? How does that make you feel? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
Is the movie scary? How does it compare to other horror movies?
How did you view the movie's ending? Is it a happy ending? Were any lessons learned?
- In theaters: October 20, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: February 1, 2018
- Cast: Alexandra Shipp, Brianna Hildebrand, Jack Quaid
- Director: Tyler MacIntyre
- Studio: Gunpowder & Sky
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: High School
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong bloody horror violence, and language including some sexual references
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