Why is it that dark comedies tend to become cult classics? Is it because they use humor to showcase a darker aspect of humanity that most people don’t deal with? Or is it because they use the dark side of humanity to find new ways to make us laugh. Who can really say. I will say that these movies tend to receive a lot of praise from the critics. If you doubt me, let me remind you of a little film from 96 called Fargo. Now today’s movie, Heathers, was also well received by the critics, but whether it was worth it is up to you.
The plot: Veronica Sawyer is friends with the Heathers, the most popular and feared clique in Westerburg High, but as the school year progresses, she is tired of them and wants to return to her old life and friends. When she meets Jason “J.D.” Dean, she becomes drawn to the newcomer and winds up starting a relationship with him. When Veronica embarrasses Heather Chandler (the leader of the Heathers) at a frat party, Heather vows to ruin Veronica’s reputation at school. The next morning, Veronica goes to Heather’s house with J.D. with the intention of making Heather puke but she gives Heather a cup full of drain cleaner by mistake and accidentally kills her. Not wanting to be arrested, Veronica forges Heather’s handwriting to write a suicide note. Heather McNamara asks Veronica to go with her on a double date with Ram and Kurt, two members of the football team, but while Heather is having sex with Ram, Heather leaves Kurt lying drunk in a field while she goes off with J.D. The next day, Veronica learns that Kurt had spread a rumor that she performed oral sex on both him and Ram. Wanting some revenge, she makes plans with J.D. to embarrass them by faking their deaths as gay lovers, but to her horror, she realizes that the bullets they used were not fake and she and J.D. have really killed the two jocks. As the students and faculty seem to be elevating the status of the dead teenagers, other students begin to attempt suicide, including Heather McNamara. Meanwhile, Heather Duke has been assuming the leader’s role left by Heather Chandler’s death and has been assisting J.D. in getting a petition signed by every student at the school. Veronica is fed up with J.D.’s actions and breaks up with him. When J.D. shows up at her house to kill her, he finds Veronica hanging from a noose in her room. Thinking her dead, he tells her about his plan that the petition is actually a mass suicide note and he plans on blowing up the school during tomorrow’s pep rally. Veronica goes to the school and finds J.D. setting up the bomb in the boiler room. The two struggle and Veronica winds up getting J.D.’s gun and shooting him, causing J.D. to inadvertently stab the bomb, which deactivates it. Veronica heads outside and is shocked to see that J.D. has followed her out and has the bomb strapped to his chest. When J.D. asks what Veronica would have done if he had blown up the school, she pulls out a cigarette and sticks it in her mouth, causing J.D. to laugh as the bomb goes off, killing him and managing to light Veronica’s cigarette. As Veronica heads back inside, she briefly confronts Heather Duke before talking to Martha Dunnstock, a girl that was bullied by the Heathers, and invites her to watch movies with her on prom night.
Heathers was highly praised by the critics, earning a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The consensus among the critics was that it “took a chainsaw to the conventions of the high school movie, changing the game for teen comedies to follow.” However, it did not fare well at the box office, earning a little over $1 million off of a $2 million dollar budget. However, when it was released on video, it had strong sales and rentals which helped make it the cult classic that it is.
This is a great movie which shows the darker side of high school, one which most movies at the time shied away from. Winona Ryder and Christian Slater had pretty good chemistry together, which actually wound up with them getting into a real life relationship during the filming of the movies. The plot was pretty good and the writing, while corny at times, did make for a lot of the laughs in the movie, as well as having several memorable lines that came out of this film. The theme of teenage suicide was definitely a bit dark but the film did a good job of pointing out that it is something that happens in high school. A great movie that is worth watching.
Rating:4 out of 5