With Valentine’s Day recently passing, nothing seems more appropriate than watching a teenage somewhat romantic, totally dark, and twisted comedy. ‘Heathers’, directed by Michael Lehmann, is a movie that is able to fill these requirements nicely and originates from an iconic era of film, the 1980s. There will be spoilers for the movie throughout this writing piece, so read at your own discretion. The movie stars Winona Ryder as Veronica Sawyer. Veronica becomes the girlfriend of the social outcast, J.D., played by Christian Slater. J.D. is able to manipulate Veronica into helping him commit murderous acts and the two go on a crime spree as an act of revenge against a popularity driven society. It’s only until the near end of the film that Veronica realizes that J.D. is only using her to assist him in his twisted plans and he is deliberately ending the lives of the teenagers he doesn’t like. Then Veronica strategizes her own revenge tactic to make J.D.’s violent ways come to an end.
I loved this movie overall, the plot was unlike any other teenage film I’ve ever seen, and the influences of the time period made everything form the sets, to the costumes very compelling to watch. I had a particular liking for the honest ways the film addressed the social climate in an average high school. There is a wide variety of misfits and mean girls woven into the plot, and it’s interesting to see how they interact. For example, after J.D. and Veronica give Heather Chandler (the “it girl” of the school) drain cleaner disguised as a juice concoction, and cover it up as a suicide, the school mourns for weeks over the tragic and sudden loss of Heather and even dedicate a section of the yearbook to her. But, when a less popular girl who is the target of constant taunting and mockery attempts suicide, people assume the girl was trying to imitate the recently deceased popular girl at the school.
The adults are enwrapped in cluelessness throughout the movie. I feel like this was done in order to show the audience the frustrating feeling that all too often adults don’t understand teenage problems. I think that even if you watched this movie and you weren’t a teenager you’d still be able to relate to the frustration the characters feel. Veronica’s parents ignore her and have the same revolving door of a conversation with her every scene they’re in. The teachers and various staff members of the school have a terrible time trying to figure out what’s best for the students in this time of turmoil for the student body. Even the police are too incompetent to trace the crimes back to Veronica and J.D.
When the film came out in 1989, it was something very different and original. The overall direction, cinematography, and soundtrack played a great part in allowing the film to showcase its diversity.
When you’re looking for a bleak, semi-romantic comedy starring high school teenagers breaking the law, look no further than ‘Heathers.’ The film covers everything from toxic relationships, and bullying, to felonies. ‘Heathers’ is a compelling film that as a society we can still enjoy and learn from today.
story by natalie gill, graphic by isabella tyler