Director: Michael Lehmann
Starring: Winona Ryder, Christian Slater and Shannen Doherty
Runtime: 103 minutes
I was pleased to see Heathers selected as the LAMB Movie of the Month. This is a film that has been on my must-see list for a while now, and its nomination gave me validation to bump it up in the queue and finally sit down to tackle this cult hit / dark comedy.
The film gets its name from a high school clique of popular/rich girls that all share the first name of Heather. They are cruel to everyone in school, and despised by most. Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder) is a classmate of theirs who associates with them to maintain her popular status. Veronica is generally more caring than her associates, but is forced to act like them in order to remain “friends”.
Things get interesting at school when Jason Dean (Christian Slater) shows up. J.D. is a rebel, a new guy who doesn’t give a shit about anyone or anything. Naturally, Veronica finds him to be fascinating, and the two hit it off. As Veronica is disgusted with her “friends”, she works with J.D. to concoct a plan to get rid of them one-by-one. This plan is taken to another level, however, when J.D. poisons the lead Heather (Kim Walker), killing her and leaving a note behind to frame it as a suicide. This is only the beginning of what soons become J.D.’s rampage, one that Veronica struggles to stay away from.
Going into Heathers, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew it was a dark comedy (which I generally love) and that it starred Christian Slater in his breakthrough role. What I didn’t expect was non-stop snappy dialogue that had me in hysterics, and the very dark suicide subject matter. In this regard, I loved what the film had to offer.
On the other hand, there was one thing that nearly ruined the movie for me: Christian f’n Slater. I am not too familiar with his work, having only seen him in True Romance, but he was beyond grating as James Dean. Slater’s godawful Jack Nicholson impression is just terrible, and I could not help thinking as such every time he appeared on screen. Based on this performance, it blows my mind that he was once considered a heartthrob.
If J.D.’s role were given to a more competent actor, I wholeheartedly believe that Heathers would rank among my favorite comedies. As such, while I enjoyed the film, I did not fall in love with it like I wanted to. There’s so much to like, especially the witty dialogue and Winona Ryder’s fun performance, but Slater really drags the film down. Still, it’s easy to see why this is a cult hit, and it’s worth seeing regardless.