Archive Review: Heathers (1988) – 3.5/5 Stars


High school is vicious, everyone knows that. And although stereotypes have run high school movies ragged, there’s still a ring of truth to them even when they’re blown out of proportion. In this regard, “Heathers” stands apart. This ’80s cult favorite black comedy is the counter-culture version of the high school flick, the very definition of teen angst in the form of a laughable revenge fantasy.

Altogether the film is quite ridiculous: Veronica (Winona Ryder) has an in with the Heathers, the three most popular girls in school, but when she ends up betrayed by their contrived social hierarchies and sleazy attitudes, she and her new boyfriend, the rebellious J.D. (Christian Slater), end up on a spree of setting up the murders of popular kids to look like suicides. The reactions of those in the community are comical though sadly, so are the way the two killers deal with their actions.

But there’s something about the sharpness of its satirical wit that makes “Heathers” so incredibly laudable despite the lackluster drama and muddled character motivation. We all kind of wish those popular jerk-offs from high school would just roll over, but “Heathers” takes it one step further, willing to do whatever it takes — even throw away its plot credibility — to make its point.

High school is full of these delusions and they extend from the kids all the way up through the administration. Nobody gets that there are actually serious underlying issues and everyone gets caught up in one thing or another, which is usually image. Veronica and J.D. create these false suicides and everyone buys them and turns them into martyrs when they were awful people. It’s some wonderful irony.

For the feature film debuts of director Michael Lehmann and writer Daniel Waters, “Heathers” is pretty impressive. How two high school kids suddenly become murderers is kind of slopped together, but they manage to illustrate the film’s point with ease. Man, I’m glad I’m not in high school anymore.


3.5/5 Stars

Directed by: Michael Lehmann
Written by: Daniel Waters
Starring: Winona Ryder, Christian Slater

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