Winona Ryder is part of the most popular and bitchy clique in Westerberg High School, until she meets charismatic psychopath Christian Slater who inspires her “teen angst bullshit” to have a body count.
By the end of the 1980’s, there began a severe backlash against the empty, self-centred attitude of that particular decade spearheaded by bands such as Nirvana and Public Enemy and culminating in Douglas Coupland’s Generation X, which pronounced a new cynicism for a society built on self-serving greed and obsession with vacuous superficiality. Heathers was very much part of this movement and was like a breath of fresh air upon its release. A parody of 1980’s teen movies and a biting social satire on society’s obsession with looks and popularity, it contained a new kind of well-observed and dark wit missing from mainstream comedy at the time. Slater does his best Jack Nicholson impersonation as the murderous High School rebel and Winona Ryder displays her appealing left-field quirkiness, but the real star is the dialogue that contains a host of brilliantly quotable lines. Unfortunately it loses momentum towards the end as the script tries to tie up the plot in an unconvincing finale and the laughs get fewer and farther between, but it’s also a cinematic time capsule of an important shift in the attitudes of the popular culture of the time.
It’s not perfect, but Heathers is well worth it for the first hour, which is still hugely witty and entertaining.