Tragedy Girls (Fantasia 2017)

Teenagers tend to want their fifteen minutes of fame -- at least that much -- and the young people of the unremarkable midwestern town of Rosedale are no exception. What is exceptional is the lengths to which two particular young ladies calling themselves the Tragedy Girls will go to get that fame. McKayla (Alexandra Shipp, X-Men: Apocalypse), more commonly known as M-Kay, has the charisma, while best friend Sadie (Brianna Hildebrand, Deadpool) provides the brains, though she does also look good in a pixie cut, even if she does say so herself.

They're all over the internet, or at least trying to be, playing up every local catastrophe as much as possible. But while their obsession over likes and retweets isn't unusual, their ultimate plan is: they want to be serial killers reporting on themselves. I can't decide whether I want to cheer them on for breaking into a male-dominated field or be appalled that they even thought of this. But Sadie says they need a mentor, and to that end they track down local serial killer Lowell (Kevin Durand). Strangely, Lowell isn't really down with their plan, even though apprenticeships are probably the only good way to learn this sort of career.

Aside from mentor problems, though, the girls have another issue to face: Their murders keep being reported as tragic accidents. The local sheriff (Timothy V. Murphy) tells the citizens not to panic, but panic is exactly what the Tragedy Girls want. They post the most shocking videos they can manage, with help from fellow student Jordan (Jack Quaid) -- who just happens to be the sheriff's son and who has a crush on Sadie. Yet no matter how gruesome their murders, the terrible truth seems to keep getting downplayed and covered up, and they can't have that.

So in between doing homework and meetings of the prom committee, the Tragedy Girls step up their game with power tools and gym equipment, all while doing their best to keep the town on edge and demanding action from the sheriff. Even the mayor (Rosalind Chao) gets in on the act, leading a protest march. But as the body count rises, circumstances start coming between our heroines -- well, main characters. Can they stay focused and realize their dreams together? Or will the Tragedy Girls suffer their own tragic end?

As you might expect from a horror / comedy, it's often wildly illogical (and ridiculously gory) but never forgets to have fun. Josh Hutcherson has a small role as M-Kay's ex, though I could have done without that subplot, absolutely no offense to him. It's a fun distraction, but still an unnecessary departure from the main story -- no doubt intended to show the depths of the girls' obsession, but that's shown in a myriad of other ways. Still, when it stays on point it's reminiscent of the classic Heathers pulled into the modern era to allow for the extra havoc of Twitter and Instagram. The next generation of slasher icons looks very little like Freddy and Jason anymore.

M-Kay and Sadie, totally Best Fiends Forever.


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