Before this, high-school movies were all cuddly stereotypes and coming-of-age kookiness. Even John Hughes's spikier takes on adolescent angst were acted by non-teens and sugared with the idea that if only the freakin' principal and the parents would get out of the way, the young people could start to live a little. Here, the kids are just as bad as the adults. Heathers is Pretty In Pink reworked by David Lynch.
Veronica (Winona Ryder) is the closet doubter in "the most powerful clique in school" - a scheming bevy of poisonous princesses mostly called Heather-something. They glide around, spoofing the fatties, freaking the geeks and conducting stealth psychological profiles via a lunchtime poll (""You win $5 million and the same day, aliens land on Earth and say they're gonna blow up the world in two days... What are you gonna do with the money?"").
When JD (Christian Slater) saunters into the canteen, Veronica can't help but swoon at his off-the-peg rebel flair, and the pair quickly get busy subverting the social politics. But it soon becomes clear that JD is more interested in playing rough than in silly mind-games.
With the hair and the hats and the patchwork power-suits, Heathers feels like a snarling parody of '80s self-love. But its disgust at society's paternal attitude to `young adults' hints at something more brooding beneath the surface. The tribalism of youth may be cruel, but at least it's up-front - unlike the weaselly back-stabbing of the adult world.
Writer Daniel Waters makes his points with bible-black humour and a pub-bore checklist of cheerfully flagrant dialogue (""Fuck me gently with a chainsaw, do I look like Mother Teresa?""... ""Grow up. Bulimia is so '87""... And, altogether now: "I LOVE MY DEAD GAY SON!""). A bracing blast of cynicism from a normally mild-mannered genre.
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