CREDIT: Gunpowder & Sky

This review was originally posted on News Cult in October 2017.

Starring: Alexandra Shipp, Brianna Hildebrand, Jack Quaid, Kevin Durand, Nicky Whelan, Craig Robinson

Director: Tyler MacIntyre

Running Time: 98 Minutes

Rating: R for Sanguine Hacking and Squirting

Release Date: October 20, 2017 (Limited)

Is it possible to be so addicted to social media status that it drives you to serial killing? Tragedy Girls sure seems to think so. But the way it presents this scenario is a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg situation. When we meet high school besties McKayla (Alexandra Shipp) and Sadie (Brianna Hildebrand), they are already both rising Instagram stars AND in the midst of a killing spree. Their attention for fame does not fuel their bloodlust so much as the former provides a channel to express the latter. Any satirical point about how social media obsessions can be deadly is blunted by how much their murderousness is just a part of their nature.

But maybe Tragedy Girls isn’t really meant to be a takedown of what the kids are up to these days. Maybe it is more just the latest profile of banal evil that lurks in supposedly picture-perfect suburbia. Shipp and Hildebrand are certainly committed enough to pull that off, their delightedly and delightfully psychotic performances the highlight of the film. They seem to be operating in a bit of a Zodiac vibe, where part of the thrill is acting as amateur journalists of their own spree.

That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t much matter when everything else around them is a bit too scattershot. Famous faces like Josh Hutcherson and Craig Robinson pop up, only to be quickly dispatched. In the case of the latter, his presence makes sense, since he is also a producer. But Hutch is clearly there as a favor to someone so that there is a big name to be splashy with promotional materials, but in the actual product, he is a distraction from what could have been an unassuming, low-budget charmer.

Tragedy Girls is worth recommending somewhat for the fun of its murderous set pieces. The gore is smeared with squishy goodness and fully imbued with glee. McKayla and Sadie are practically magical in how clean and precise their slicing and dicing (and cleanup!) skills are. It’s enough to remind us the joy of feeding our taste for violence on screen and the safety of eschewing it in real life.

Tragedy Girls is Recommended If You Like: Final Destination at its most cartoonish, the Child’s Play series, Jennifer’s Body

Grade: 2 out of 5 Haters Ruining Prom