I should probably just admit this to you early: I was a mean-girl in high school. I stole boyfriends, I ruthlessly cut the lunch line, my campaign for prom queen was dirty and political (I won, by the way), my mere presence in the hallway required all younger girls to lower the heads in respect and fear— not to mention I had a tall, athletic boyfriend and a convertible bug that I would fling into the school parking lot every morning playing “I’m bossy.” Disgusting, I know. Time and college have since humbled me and I’ll have you know that I now drive a shitty 12-year-old Honda accord with speakers that only work in the back. Hold your snickers please. We all have pieces of our past that make us cringe and the fact that I’m publicizing mine should bequeath me some credit. I don’t tell you this to make some sick nod at a glorious past, but to establish that I may be one of the few people who can genuinely empathize with the character Heather from the cult classic film Heathers.
Netflix recently made available this 1988 Michael Lehmann film that I, now being of a more reflective age, decided to watch for the first time last Thursday. Since my first viewing last week, I’ve watched the film 6 times. I’m not one for obsessive repetition but I can’t stop watching it. I’m not sure if it’s the film’s naturally sardonic spirit, its flirty yet vicious script, or just the straight sex appeal of young a murderous Christian Slater, or some deeper reason. Regardless, it is a classic worth revisiting.
Set in Ohio, the film follows the narration of Veronica (Winona Ryder) who has been roped into her high school’s “power” clique which is composed of three malicious girls all named Heather. Wrought with teen-age clichés, the film begins with Veronica as a reluctant fourth wheel to the demonic trio of Heathers who wreak havoc across the cafeteria. The film doesn’t spend much time plotting the demise of Heather No. 1 (the most evil of the three) as we have seen in other similar and more recent films like Mean Girls. In fact, Heather No. 1 is dead within the first 35 minutes. With the help of her sexy outcast boyfriend, JD (Slater), Veronica “accidently” feeds Heather some drainer fluid and then the forges a false suicide note. The pair continues their murder spree by killing off two more high school jerks, which they once again cover up by faking suicide.
The film quickly becomes a statement about teen suicide, high school politics and the maniacal Bonnie-and-Clyde romance between JD and Veronica. Maybe it’s just because I’m a romantic sap, or because JD reminds me of a certain old lover of mine, but their romance is really what makes this film as dark and comedic as it is—this “bad romance” is what got me emotionally hooked. Well, it’s that… and the fleeting thought of what would have happened if someone from my high school snapped and decided to feed me draino. Whoa. Yikes. Meh? I wont give away the ending, but let me just say, its tragic and humorous. This is a fantastic black comedy worth a visit or a revisit.