‘Heathers’ – Decomp

Decomp for the film Heathers. This decomp is intended for use to organize your thoughts after watching the movie. For more information about decomps please head to this blog post.

How did the film make you feel?

What was your favorite shot of the film?

What did you feel was the thesis of the film?

What things did you enjoy about the film? What things did you dislike?

By the end of the film, did you have any empathy for any of the characters? Which ones and why?

Did you interpret the use of primary colors to mean anything beyond identification for the main characters?

The movie seemed to imply that it’s thesis was (as spoken by J.D.) – “The extreme always seems to make an impression.” Do you agree with this or do you think the film was trying to say something different?

Do you think it’s possible in today’s political climate to feature high schooler students in such a dark film? Many of the scenes are fairly shocking in the wake of Columbine – do those historical events that have happened since hinder or strengthen this film’s legacy?

Do you think this film is the first ‘teensploitation’ film or is it the first to be honest about it’s exploitative motive? Or did you feel that it wasn’t exploitative?

 


And my answers to the above – please don’t feel like you need to agree with me at all! I’m interested in how you feel about the film, as ultimately that’s what matters!

How did the film make you feel?

I found the film to be fairly jarring as it was much darker than I was expecting. Some of the imagery was so shocking in light of recent events – things like school shootings becoming so commonplace – that I kept feeling like it was going to have more and more surprises. And it did! I did also find it to be quite funny in many spots as the writing was very sharp, and definitely inspired many of the ‘edgy’ teen movies that came after it.

What was your favorite shot of the film?

My favorite shot of the film was the above shot of Heather laying dead on the floor on the red carpeting. Surrounded by glamour mags, lying in glass – the image is both beautiful and haunting.

Heathers

What did you feel was the thesis of the film?

I felt the thesis of the film was looking to say something along the lines of pain is a web. All of the bullying, hurt, cliques, infighting, external violence – all of it begets more of those things.

What things did you enjoy about the film? What things did you dislike?

I loved the sharpness of the script, it’s ability to keep pushing the envelope farther and farther, and I felt the cinematography was astounding, which was much better than what I was expecting.

I disliked the way that various characters’ despair was exploited to redeem our main characters. I get that this was the point, but it was still hard to see.

By the end of the film, did you have any empathy for any of the characters? Which ones and why?

At the end of the film I felt empathy for nearly every character, even J.D. Part of the gravity of the film is that we get to see the results of horrible upbringings, bullying, cliques, violence, etc. Every character, even the stupid football jocks, are the way they are as a result of how they’ve been treated at some point.

Did you interpret the use of primary colors to mean anything beyond identification for the main characters?

I don’t think the color usage had any extra meaning. I think it was fun to pick up how different details brought the characters together in the world, specifically the scenes involving croquet and how the characters assert themselves via the desire for the color red.

The movie seemed to imply that it’s thesis was (as spoken by J.D.) – “The extreme always seems to make an impression.” Do you agree with this or do you think the film was trying to say something different?

I think this is certainly one possible reading of the film’s thesis. Films like this seem to be trying to give us a more meta view of specific relationships and how the world works.

Heathers 2

Do you think it’s possible in today’s political climate to feature high schooler students in such a dark film? Many of the scenes are fairly shocking in the wake of Columbine – do those historical events that have happened since hinder or strengthen this film’s legacy?

I don’t think a film like this could come out nowadays, but I feel like it’s exactly the kind of film that should. Seeing such powerful and dark scenes acted out by children really brings home the reality of violence among youth and in schools. People might take these things to be potentially aspirational to would be offenders, but I don’t think things actually work like that. Just because people are problems doesn’t mean we should be shying away from said problems. Maybe by forcing people to confront these realities we might make some progress on lowering violence like this.

Do you think this film is the first ‘teensploitation’ film or is it the first to be honest about it’s exploitative motive? Or did you feel that it wasn’t exploitative?

I think this film is definitely in the ‘exploitation’ vein. It’s trying to push the limitations of it’s teen genre to the most absurd and violent possible place. If that doesn’t count, then I don’t know what should.


If you’re so inclined, please use the decomp in the comments to let us know how you felt about the film. Is there anything you feel we missed that feels applicable to the film? Let us know!

To see the notes I took while watching Heathers – please visit my letterboxd – https://letterboxd.com/niallmccarthy/film/heathers/

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