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“What is your damage, Heather?” With this quote, spoken early on in Michael Lehmann’s satirical high school film, Heathers set itself apart from typical teen movies.

Released in 1988, the film follows whip-smart Veronica Sawyer, played by a young Winona Ryder, as she rebels against her friend group made up of cruelly popular girls who — you guessed it — are all named Heather. With the help of mysterious outsider J.D., teen heartthrob Christian Slater, Veronica’s plan to put an end to the Heather dynasty once and for all quickly escalates to homicide. Heathers was a far cry from the earnest John Hughes teen comedies that were so popular at the time, but it also lacked an adult parallel, leaving it to change both dark comedies and teen films forever. Without Heathers there would be no Mean Girls or Easy A, and 90s teens might have grown up without Clueless.

Veronica and J.D. trade barbs, fall in love and disguise murders as suicides in a surreal hour and forty minutes, and the audience somehow follows unquestioningly every step of the way. The pair quip their way through murder with such ease that soon the lines of right and wrong blur beyond repair and moral compasses virtually disappear. Veronica, along with us viewers, falls under the spell of J.D.’s utter coolness (earring! leather jacket!), sharp tongue (“Chaos was what killed the dinosaurs, darling”) and flippant attitude towards violence. And with that, she goes along with his bloody scheme to cleanse high school society.

Betraying the dark subject matter, Heathers is shot in light pastels and adorned with classically awful 80s hair and clothes. The script is an intricate gift that keeps on giving, providing not only a suspenseful turn of events but also quotable lines and dizzying wordplay.
Heathers works as a deft, dark satire by knowingly including archetypal characters like Ram, a dumb joke, and a forlorn overweight girl dubbed Martha Dumptruck, serving as an easy target for bullies. The soundtrack, mostly made up of spooky synths, is topped off with the phony song “Teenage Suicide (Don't Do It)” by the fictitious band Big Fun, heightening the satire at work.
Heathers failed at the box office, but has since enjoyed success as a cult hit years after its initial release. What may have once been regarded as shocking fits in nicely with today’s jaded culture towards violence and dark humor. Luckily for us, Heathers is as sharp as ever, and revenge has never been so good.



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Juliakathl said...
Aug. 10 at 1:41 pm
I just watched the movie Healthers And shortly after watched the movie clueless. They're both great movies
 
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