Retro Review: Heathers (1988)

Looks like a cute little romance…hmmmmm, nope!

I had more time this week to do another review. Figuring it was better to have a back-up review rather than struggling at the last moment to squeeze some time in, I seized the opportunity. Having recently been into Winona Ryder and hearing about this “teen classic,” I decided it was time to watch this “Mean Girls of the 80.”

Heathers revolves around Veronica (Winona Ryder) who is part of the most popular clique at school, (all named ‘Heather.’) However, she has become very sick of her “friends’” snobby and cruel attitudes towards the other students. It is then that Veronica decides to confront clique leader, Heather Chandler (Kim Walker) along with her new boyfriend, J.D. (Christian Slater). Veronica and J.D. then end up accidently poisoning Heather Chandler and are forced to make it look like a suicide. Veronica thinks her problems are over…until she suspects there’s more to J.D.

“If you were happy every day of your life you wouldn’t be a human being. You’d be a game-show host.”

Directed by Michael Lehmann, Heathers’ synopsis grabbed my attention. I thought that the idea of an 80s Mean Girls would’ve been hilarious. *Pauses for a moment* ah, Heathers, Heathers, Heathers, how you’ve failed me. -_- Turned out it barely had any similarities to Mean Girls, and I was fine with that.  After all, I was open to films of different genre. I had at least thought it’d be good. But, HA, boy was I wrong again. It was barely even ‘meh.’

Ew, popular blondes. *cringe*

Negative: the plot. The plot seemed to drag, was cliché (to an extent), was unrealistic (especially with the investigations following ‘accidents’) had plot holes, and was even unrealistic at times. Lehmann…really?  I understand the movie was a satire, however, the unrealistic nature should’ve had a point to it. In American Psycho, for example, the deaths gone unnoticed/unheard by others had a point to it even though it was exaggerated: no one cared in such a shallow society. The point of doing so in Heathers? It wasn’t clearly articulated. Furthermore, there were a few funny moments, but I was dragging myself to finish this film. Yeah, yeah, I get it. “Dana, it’s supposed to be a dark comedy. Blah, blah you don’t understand the essence of this film. Blah, blah, originality. Blah, blah a classic.” Joke’s on you though, because I did understand the point of the film…but it just didn’t appeal to me.

“When teenagers complain that they want to be treated like human beings, it’s usually because they are being treated like human beings.”


Negative/positive: the acting. The acting was great at times, making me love Winona Ryder more. And it was my first time watching Christian Slater (searched up how he looked like today, and WHOA, balding O.o). But having said that, I also wanted to groan at the acting. At times, it was so unrealistic and pathetic. For example, Heather Chandler’s death scene had me wanting to gag on a spoon; I doubt bystanders would’ve acted as such if an actual human being was dying in front of them. Plus, some of the actors were even smiling in the middle of serious scenes. SMILING?! Winona, you were part of this, so allow me to ask you ‘whyyyy????’

Positive: the lack of gruesome violence. Although the content of this film is dark, the violence isn’t overly done. In fact, there’s barely any. For the small amounts of violence included in Heathers, it isn’t graphic at all. Honestly, It’s a nice contrast to today’s films where there’s so much blood and gore that it becomes disgusting and unrealistic (looking at you Final Destination—although I still love it!)

“Dear Diary, my teen-angst bullshit now has a body count.”

Positive number two: memorable quotes! Because why wouldn’t you go around throwing out some pop culture references?

All of us get this moment.

Positive number three: the message of the film. I really enjoyed how the film showed how people in our society, even today, are very gullible in terms of believing the exact evidence presented before them. I’m not only about talking murder here; this could also apply to the media. Many people jump to assumptions without thinking about the situation from a logical, rational standpoint—especially when opting not to stitch pieces of a story together. Words are often put into our mouths despite the lack of actual evidence. Another theme I enjoyed was how many people simplify the concept of suicide when it is so much more complex. Human beings do not live through the same story; they all have unique circumstances and emotions that lead them to that tragic choice. You cannot lump people into one category and suggest they all have the same problem. They need to be approached from different angles….

“Chaos is what killed the dinosaurs, darling”

Overall, I thought Heathers was ok. But would I watch it again? Nope. The message of the film was the only thing that really raised up Heathers by a couple of points. However,  I thought that the flaws of the film greatly overshadowed the meaning of Heathers.

Rating: R

Running Time: 1 hr 43 mins.

Final Verdict: C/B-


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