Heathers ( ,Michael Lehmann,1988) What messages does it give?

This film was recommended to me by my mum, she through it was my kind of film because the popular bullies get murdered by  their best friend Veronica Sawyer played by the incredibly talented Winona Ryder and her psychotic boyfriend Jason “J.D.” Dean (Christian Slater). As someone who was a victim of bullying I thought that it must be a great movie.  I mean I was right but the film was not what I expected. The people I expected to die didn’t and those who I thought were safe were murdered, however this did add to the narrative and give the piece a few plot twists. The only issue was the fact that no one thought that there was a murderer, rather teen suicide.  My concern with this is does it give the audience ideas on how to get away with murder? In addition, the main thrill of slasher cult comedies is watching them get caught or at least watching people fight back. Instead of being given a cup of drain cleaner to “cure their hangover”. I’m not saying that these people don’t deserve what happened to them but could they be a little more creative.

Heathers is also a great example of a moral panic production as it seems to focus around the glorification of teen suicide. Even though many banners are put up warning people against the act, the film indicates that if those who are important kill themselves then they will be glorified and have their life celebrated. On the other hand, this film isn’t wrong in saying so , for example when a celebrity commits suicide, they are given awards for their work towards their chosen industry and many celebrate their incredible life and mourn a great loss , whilst forgetting that this was an act that they chose to carry out.

In addition to this, it is clear that those who were killed suffered no mental illness or trouble at home of school, they had no reason for the act (in my opinion). However, the character Martha “Dumptruck” Dunnstock (Carrie Lynn) does suffer from depression and is severely bullied throughout her High school years. Therefore, when she attempts to follow the crowd and end it all, the result is different from those of her peers. Despite that fact that she fails at her attempt, she is bullied even more! This then raises the question; why do people’s reaction on teen suicide differ; depending on the popularity of the victim? If so, it shows the messed up society we live in.

Heathers movie poster

Heathers movie poster

The film is also able to indicate that once the powerful has fallen , someone will always take there place.

Our teen villain Jason Dean is also able to get the entire school to sign a mass suicide note, by persuading them that what they are signing is in fact a series of petitions to change the school for the better, for example a Hot Tub and more time for lunch. Once the note was signed by all, he attempt to blow up the school. However, fails and ends up again killing himself to convey a message. This again reinforces the hidden meaning behind this film, rather than a killing spree between two lovers.

However, despite the moral panic and main message of the film, the cult classic dark humoured production is still enjoyable and gives you the ability to purge your anger on these characters by seeing the teen bully’s get what they deserve…. Well it may be a bit extreme BUT it is a film after all.

How have you not seen this?

deathbyapril-April Ely


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