MPAA: Rated R for violence, pervasive language, thematic material, alcohol and drug use.
Director: Michael Lehmann
Starring: Winona Ryder, Christian Slater, Shannen Doherty
Synopsis: Veronica is part of the most popular clique at her high school, but she disapproves of the other girls’ cruel behavior. Her new boyfriend, J.D., convinces her to get back at them, and in the process accidentally poisons and kills one of them. Soon Veronica realizes that J.D. is intentionally killing students he does not like.
Heathers is known today as a cult-classic, but back in 1988 probably got mixed reviews. This film goes against everything that 80s high school movies stood for and were about. This film cleverly makes fun of the John Hughes movies that were so popular back in that time, while also creating a very engaging story with some very good dark humor. This film has a very intriguing story. Winona Ryder plays the lead character, Veronica, who is tired of the way her three friends, all named Heather, treat others. They are bullies and very rude and obnoxious. At a certain point, you begin to hate the characters too and are very interested once Christian Slater’s character comes in and starts to manipulate Winona Ryder’s character into doing some very bad things. This film goes down a dark path that continues to get darker and more unpredictable till the very end.
Both leads are absolutely fantastic in their given roles, and really give performances that define who they are as actors. The great thing about it is they were so young while making this, both still teenagers, that it’s impressive they were able to find their identity as actors at such a young age. Winona Ryder does a great job of expressing the teenage agony in her character that so many young woman can relate to. Even though her character clearly has issues, and is very dark, she still portrays enough charm and wit to make her character likable and someone to root for. Her character is very important, because most of the other characters in this film are unlikable. Ryder’s character, Veronica, is a classic anti-hero. This is a character that is doing some very bad things, but in a way, an audience can relate to her and pull for her until the very end. She is doing things in this film that most people probably wanted to do in the back of their minds but never did. Those who were bullied or neglected the more popular kids understand exactly why Veronica is doing these things. Even though we would never kill these kids, Veronica and J.D. do, so it is, in a dark way, very satisfying to watch. Christian Slater is also great as the psychotic, manipulative J.D. This character is the definition of cool, and even though is much darker than Veronica, we still root for him as well. Slater gives the best performance, because he is portraying this despicable person, but we still like him. His character is very funny at times, quotable, and gives enough charm to his character that we begin to root for him as well.
Lastly, I would like to discuss the very good screenplay for this film. Heathers is written by Daniel Waters, the same guy who wrote Batman Returns, so it really makes sense how insanely dark this high-school film gets. Waters does a great job of bringing sarcasm and satire to this film. This entire film really is a satire on high school cliques, the upper-class, and the social norms they bide by. The writing is very intelligent and displays plenty of dark humor, and quirky one-liners that make it instantly quotable. The only negative thing I can say about this film is how most of the characters are used as a comedic tool for the film and is hard to believe that people would act like that in person. A lot of the supporting characters seemed fake from the way they acted and talked. This style did make for some great comedy, but did loose me at times, and in return, provided a climax that was not as gut-wrenching as it could have been.
Overall, Heathers is an original, though-provoking film that offers plenty of dark humor and charm that a lot of people can enjoy. This film gives two fantastic performances from our leads who both portray very memorable characters that are likable even though they are doing very awful things. This is a hard thing to pull off, but Heathers really puts the nail in the coffin. Speaking of coffins, we see plenty of them, so let me warn you that this is not your average teenage coming of age film. This film gets very dark at times, but in return, provides originality to the film that is hard to compare to anything else. Heathers is a very underrated gem from the 80s and has reached cult classic success. I highly recommend it! My grade for this film is: