I like Mean Girls. I don't *love* it, but it's well written and it has a lot of sharp one-liners. Having said that, it's been odd to see its cult following seemingly take over the internet. Spoiler alert: you won't believe the shocking degree to which lazy clickbait articles reuse the same 10 or so Mean Girls gifs and jokes. Only 2000's kids will understand this listicle. If you think you can handle it, throw "Mean Girls Buzzfeed" into a search engine and fall into an interminable void.
In this context, it was fascinating to watch Heathers for the first time. Released more than 25 years ago, this movie has a much harsher edge to it, pushing the tired tropes regarding high school cliques and teen angst *far* beyond their standard end points. The gleefully anarchic first half of this movie doesn't bring about the downfall of the school's most popular girl with fake nutrition bars; it has two students (Winona Ryder as Veronica and Christian Slater as J.D.) kill her. After covering up her death with a fake suicide note, they proceed to kill off some obnoxious members of the football team as well. For J.D. in particular, it isn't enough to spout off a few witty quips in retaliation against the more toxic elements of high school culture. He wants to literally put an end to that culture.
That's not to say that there aren't witty quips to enjoy here. This movie completely nails the "fake teen slang" type of jokes that Mean Girls is often praised for, including its insistence on people describing things as being "very" (including the phrase "How very"). Veronica's incredibly artificial conversations with her parents are highlights, with her father repeatedly recommending that she "take a break" and sit down with them whenever she walks by them. I laughed every time Veronica said "because you're an idiot" in response to him wondering why he had just done something. Also, this is absolutely an R-rated film, which allows them to get away things like a character saying "fuck me gently with a chainsaw" in exasperation. I feel obligated to note that there is an unfortunate overuse of the word "fag" in this movie that does more to make it feel dated than anything else that happens.
As the body count rises in this movie, it's a lot of fun to watch the incredibly self-involved ways in which people react to the news. The school yearbook editor is clearly excited by the opportunity to capitalize on the popular girl's death with a garish two-page spread that's supposedly dedicated to her memory. The local pastor uses these events as an excuse to admonish modern society's broader ills, including his (hilarious) insistence that society wrongly believes that "answers can be found in the MTV video games." Veronica finds herself becoming frustrated by the post-death rise in popularity that her first victim experiences, with the less popular kids now ascribing more emotional depth to her in the wake of her "suicide."
I'm not as big of a fan of the direction that this movie takes towards the end. The tone shifts from "dark comedy" to "a kind of bad slasher movie," and the dialogue becomes a lot more on-the-nose. It's also difficult to buy Veronica's transition from being somewhat nonchalant about being an accessory to three murders to suddenly being the self-righteous hero that is going to put an end to J.D.'s plans. Overall, though, this movie is fascinating, even if there wasn't a completely coherent "point" to all of the madness beyond channeling and exaggerating a lot of the frustrations that high school kids experience.