Sitges 2017 Review: Tyler Macintyre’s Brilliant ‘Tragedy Girls’ Is SCREAM For The Social Media Age
Last year, I was fortunate enough to catch Tyler MacIntyre’s PATCHWORK at the
Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival. It sort of crept up on me. I’d not heard much
about the charming, indie horror-comedy, but like a mad scientist harvesting body parts, it stole my heart. It ended up being possibly my favorite film of the festival, and one of my favorite viewings of 2016 overall. Fast-forward to now, and not only is PATCHWORK finally widely available (watch it on Netflix!), MacIntyre’s latest feature, TRAGEDY GIRLS, is playing festivals and select theaters. It’s also one of my favorites of 2017.
TRAGEDY GIRLS is a meta horror-comedy, focused on two high school girls whose
goal in life is to become legendary slashers. The two best friends idolize serial killers, watch
horror movies, and obsess over grisly murders. They start off by capturing a hulking, masked killer who is hacking up local teenagers with a machete, and asking him to train them. The self-aware horror absurdity just ratchets up from there.
Sadie and McKayla (our titular Tragedy Girls) hit every mark for awful, narcissistic high
schoolers. They exploit every tragedy for social media “fame,” and run a blog about the murders in the town. They turn a classmate’s funeral into an ad for their blog. They are psychopaths, who would gladly take a selfie with a severed head if it meant more Retweets. Yet somehow, they are undeniably likeable protagonists.
The two are charismatic, their banter drawing most of the laughs. They’re never really
framed as frightening, but rather just giddy at each new opportunity to get closer to their
dreams. Maybe it’s because they’re horror-obsessed weirdos. But ultimately, the biggest factor is their relationship. There’s something in the unquestionable friendship between these two monsters that makes it hard not to root for them.
For most of its runtime, TRAGEDY GIRLS isn’t trying to be a horror movie. We’re
watching our charming, fame-seeking psychopaths plan their crimes. Because we don’t follow the victims, potential suspense is removed. What remains is campy, blood-soaked, self-aware brilliance. It’s a dark comedy that’s part satire, part love-letter. There’s a scene in its final act, where TRAGEDY GIRLS finally takes the shape of a traditional horror film, with deliberate cliches coming as the perfect reminder that from every other character’s perspective, this would be a pretty typical slasher flick. It’s lucky for us that TRAGEDY GIRLS is so far from typical.