The General Journal

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The General Journal

The General Journal

“Heathers” (1989): Is It Worth the Hype?

Kaya Bradford reviews the 1989 hit, “Heathers.”
Kaya Bradford

 “Heathers” is a dark, cynical, cult classic movie released in 1989. The film was directed by Michael Lehmann, and starred Winona Ryder as Veronica Sawyer and Christian Slater as Jason Dean (J.D.) The movie has high reviews, a musical spin-off, and a dedicated fanbase. Despite this, the release of “Heathers” sparked controversy with the sensitive topics mentioned such as homosexuality, and teenage suicide. (Warning: spoilers ahead!)

When the movie opens, we see a predetermined dynamic of Westerburg High School asserts Heather Chandler as the crown jewel of her class body. The other girls—Veronica Sawyer, Heather Duke, & Heather McNamara—are her lackeys, but Veronica is the outlier. She was considered an outcast before Chandler took her under her wing. Since then, she’s forged letters for Heather Chandler’s benefit and sabotaged people she previously considered her friends. The other main character, Jason Dean, is initially introduced as the new kid at Westerburg, who was expelled on the first day. The two senior star football players, Kurt and Ram, were jealous of the (very minor) attention J.D received from Veronica. They went over to scare him, but failed when he pulled a weapon from his trench coat, shooting two blanks at the pair. This for some reason earns Veronica’s admiration, who now is worried about the boy and intrigued by his persona.

The film follows a string of murders by J.D and Veronica, all masked as suicides. The victims (chronologically) are Heather Chandler, Kurt, and Ram. J.D commits these murders because all of these people had hurt Veronica, and because he claims the people they killed provide nothing to society (i.e. Westerburg Highschool). When she decides she wants no part in the murders moving forward, J.D loses it, having Heather Duke get all students to sign a ‘petition’ which J.D uses to forge a mass suicide note, and plants bombs in the boiler room and thermals underneath the bleachers. Veronica quickly interrupts, and stops him. Jason, as a last resort, reveals he has a bomb strapped to his chest, which goes off in front of the school, killing him and ending the streak of murders.

The energy of this film is very mysterious and dark, and the cinematography is excellent. The cinematographer, Francis Kenny, uses mood lighting consistently throughout the movie to convey the different emotions of the characters, which works excellently to build the mood. As the plot thickens, we see Veronica’s diary also get darker, and with different styles of shots, we see how her life starts to shamble, especially at the end of the movie after J.D blows himself up. Even with the dark contents, I think this movie handles them pretty well and shows how it can affect everyone (even with the times they make light of it.) I also enjoy how we see the other Heathers change after Chandler’s death. The movie also has some really interesting parallels with Veronica’s monologues before and after meeting J.D, which you can see if you watch the full movie.

Overall, this movie is absolutely amazing. If you like “Mean Girls,” you’d definitely appreciate “Heathers.” I had tears in my eyes as I finished the movie, and this is definitely one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. The plot is absolutely amazing, and I love how we see the progression of Veronica and her view of the suicides. My favorite quote of the entire movie is: “Suicide gave Heather depth, Kurt a soul, and Ram a brain. I don’t know what it’s given me, but I have no control over myself with J.D. Are we going to prom or hell?” This quote really wraps up the entire movie, and shows J.D’s perspective on things. This movie is without a doubt a 10/10 film, and I recommend everyone to watch it.

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About the Contributor
Kaya Bradford
Kaya Bradford, Staff Writer
Kaya Bradford is a freshmen student attending Heritage High School. This is her first year of Journalism, and so far it has been her favorite class to attend. In Kaya’s spare time, she enjoys listening to (a LOT) of music, including Tokio Hotel, Radiohead, Baby Keem, She Wants Revenge, Kendrick Lamar, and many other artists from varying genres. She also enjoys reading, writing, drawing, and some other various creative outlets. Kaya also loves spending time with animals, including her cat “Baby-Cat,” who was originally a stray but is now a proper housecat. One thing Kaya wants to do one day is attend a Tokio Hotel concert or a Radiohead concert. She also enjoys quite a few movies and shows, including "New Girl," "Criminal Minds," "Heathers," "Tokio Hotel TV," and all of the "Harry Potter" movies, though she says "Goblet Of Fire" is the best one. Kaya’s favorite books include "Lord Of The Flies," "One Of Us Is Lying," "Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire," and "IT."  Kaya also enjoys comedians and Youtubers Kurtis Conner, Danny Gonzalez, and the Sturniolo Triplets. Most of all, Kaya enjoys spending time with her friends and family.