After finishing my exams and thus finishing my three month ‘don’t watch any films pls just desperately attempt revision’ phase, I wrote a list of films that I need to watch over the summer. Heathers was appealing to me for a few reasons- I love 80’s films, I love Winona Ryder, and I love the whole subverting-the-genre aspect of this film. Although superficially, Heathers has the appearance of a cliché American high school movie, the whole ‘let’s kill all the popular kids’ theme that runs throughout the film really makes this the complete antithesis to the films typically set in an American high school (i.e. Clueless, Pretty in Pink).
It really is quite easy to understand why this film is a renowned classic. The film is centred around Veronica, a member of the most popular clique in school, although it’s evident early on that she doesn’t fit in with her group- the infamous three Heathers. Everything changes when J.D., played by a young Christian Slater, turns up, instilling her with his dark, twisted ideas of the school hierarchy. When Veronica and J.D. realise they share a mutual hatred of the way things are at Westerburg High School, the result is murder, inevitably causing other problems for the couple as the film crescendos into chaos.
Despite Heathers’ thrilling and eccentric plot- this film basically being the epitome of angsty teenagers lashing out and rebelling- I appreciated it aesthetically too. The opening scene depicts the three Heathers playing croquet, their croquet sets matching their outfits. We don’t see protagonist Veronica until one of the croquet balls bounces off her head, which just pops out of the ground as if she’s been buried alive; one of the most iconic images from Heathers, I think this is so weird yet so cool. The random, kind of surreal moments and the use of colour coordination were things that I loved throughout the film. I feel like Heathers is like a weird, exaggerated version of what people associate with being a teenager- the extremity of what Veronica and J.D. do out of hatred of the popular kids, for which they show no remorse, as well as the sheer mundanity of Veronica’s parents who repeatedly ask her if she has a date for prom while serving pâté for what appears to be every meal.
This film is worth watching simply for Veronica and J.D.’s uttermost rebellious approach to rejecting the norms of the social politics of high school. Add to that the total eighties-ness of the outfits and the fact that you will most likely want to be Veronica by the end of the film; the embodiment of cool, she doesn’t care what people think of her and does what she wants. I’d say this is a film that I would want to live in, however it’s obvious that being a teenager in Westerburg High is pretty dangerous.
By Laura Hague
Laura Hague is 18 and lives in Newcastle, in the north of England. She tweets at ccaliforniadaze and blogs at ddoused.tumblr.com.She enjoys wasting her time on IMDb and wishing she was April Ludgate, and her three favourite films are (probably) Annie Hall, Pulp Fiction and The Wolf of Wall Street.