My Favourite Movies: Heathers
I’m sure that Heathers was pretty much written and produced as an anti-John Hughes film. It is the very opposite of sickly sweet movies such as 16 Candles and Some Kind of Wonderful. It has all of the same elements that we know and love from the seemingly endless series of 1980’s teen High School dramas – the girl that tries to fit in with the top clique despite the fact that she’s smarter than the rest of them combined (in this case played by Winona Ryder), the bad boy biker who has spent his life moving from school to school (an early typecasting for Christian Slater), the beautiful girls (all rather confusingly called Heather!) that everyone wants to join or to fuck and most people hate, the jocks who terrorise the Geeks and think that the height of culture is a touchdown and a brewski, the uncaring parents and the confused teachers…. You know the drill, we’ve all seen it a hundred times before – but in this case, almost from the outset, it’s clear that we haven’t seen it all before. Heathers is darker, funnier and much more twisted than any other brat-pack movie before and probably since. The difference with this movie is that the teens with the angst – Veronica (Ryder) and her new boyfriend JD (Slater) – decide to do something about it rather than simply complain, bitch and eventually fall in love with real people rather than the image they wanted to at the beginning of the movie.
After a particularly bitchy episode Veronica decides to get her own back on one of the Heathers by making her puke after a night out. JD has other ideas and substitutes milk and orange juice for drain-o causing Heather to drop dead on the spot. When Veronica forges a pithy suicide note Heather becomes a school hero who exhibited hidden depths and hidden pains behind her confident façade. Confused by this turn of events Veronica and JD decide to stage a double suicide of a pair of bully jocks who apparently killed themselves because of their inability to ‘come out’ as gay lovers in an uncaring world. When they too are effectively canonised by the school JD flies into a rage and Veronica suddenly sees what he is capable of. It’s at this point that she needs to make a decision – does she follow JD on his trail of destruction or does she try to stop him if she can.