At Westerburg High where cliques rule, jocks dominate and all the popular girls are named Heather, it's going to take a Veronica and mysterious new kid to give teen angst a body count.At Westerburg High where cliques rule, jocks dominate and all the popular girls are named Heather, it's going to take a Veronica and mysterious new kid to give teen angst a body count.At Westerburg High where cliques rule, jocks dominate and all the popular girls are named Heather, it's going to take a Veronica and mysterious new kid to give teen angst a body count.
There is a timeless feel to Heathers, and it's something that definitely struck me watching this film today. Here's the confession: I am writing this review after watching Heathers for the first time. Of course, I had heard about this film for years, but somehow it stayed out of my DVD library until just recently. After finally taking in this much lauded classic, I'm sorry I waited so long.
But, perhaps approaching this film with today's eyes lends a useful gauge of its true effectiveness. After all, I watched the film simply to watch it, and I had no historical or sentimental ties to it to cloud my judgment of exactly how much I enjoyed it. The fact that Heathers is so great, despite the fact that it came out of an era during which high school films were made in a very specific mode, thus have mostly aged very poorly, speaks volumes about its quality.
Let me explain... Picture teen films made in the 90's during that dark period where pagers, not cell phones, were the apex of communications. Of course, all the hip kids at the time would have a pager, so naturally, references to this ultra-modern form of technology would enter into the plot, or at least the peripheral. Someone watching a film from this period today would immediately notice this antiquated device, and the film would then date itself. Heathers has no such attachments to its era, and in fact, it looks very little like any high school film made in the 80's (or ever, actually). The use of almost no music in the film adds to this mystique, and since there's no Simple Minds song guiding the action, we can't quite place the Heathers' link to popular culture there. Ditto with the fashion, which, aside from some pretty intense hair-dos, doesn't place our characters into any historical context. The teens in this film don't strut around in legwarmers or Member's Only jackets, and even if they did, this would have an ironic coolness about it in today's retro culture.
I only point this out to demonstrate that Heathers seemed to have much more on its mind than entertaining teens for a couple of hours. It takes significant forethought to omit anything that places significance on the time and place the story unfolds and focus all of the elements on the darkly delightful story instead. Heathers wouldn't work nearly as well, or apply so encompassingly, if it tied itself to a singular post of time. One of the reasons the film holds up so well today is that it looks like it could have very well been made today. This fact makes the rumors I've heard of a remake in the works one of the worst ideas of all time... and that's really saying a lot considering how many classic films have been tainted by a wretched modern make-over/cash-in (oh, that's right... we're supposed to call them "re-imaginings").
You can easily find the plot and any other pertinent information on the very listing you browsed to come to this review, and certainly Heathers is a film that has been discussed so much that I won't be able to add any significant perspective to it. Rest assured, I won't try.
I'm only here to say that I finally watched Heathers, and found it deserving off all the hype that I've encountered in the decades this film has existed. The satire is cutting and brilliant and the themes are universal, and will remain universal as long as there are millions of insecure teenagers on this planet vying for the ever-present enigma of "acceptance". Hell, most adults are still searching for that themselves, which would sort of make Heathers a film that grows up with you. That's no simple feat, and the very fact that 20 year-old jokes about mass murder are still funny today says as much about humanity as the film does about the dynamics of popularity.
I'll admit I arrived to the party late, but I can assure you this: it won't take another 20 years for me to watch this again.
- Jun 29, 2009