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Film / Tragedy Girls

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"A sweet story of a believable high school friendship between two girls who just happen to be sociopaths."

McKayla Hooper: Look, we're about to graduate and go to college, and we haven't even started our first killing spree. Is that what you want?
Sadie Cunningham: Of course not.

A 2017 horror-comedy film, directed by Tyler MacIntyre, starring Brianna Hildebrand and Alexandra Shipp.

Best friends Sadie (Hildebrand) and McKayla (Shipp) do everything together, including running their true crime website, "Tragedy Girls." In order to gain the recognition they so desperately crave, they decide to do what anyone would do: murder people themselves, and then report on it. Meanwhile, they've managed to capture a local Serial Killer, Lowell Orson Lehmann, and are currently keeping him locked up in a warehouse, in the hopes of using him as a scapegoat. As the Tragedy Girls become an overnight sensation, Sadie and McKayla fight to keep one step ahead of the local law enforcement, and keep their friendship intact.

The film was given a limited release in October 2017, before becoming available for streaming in February 2018. Blending elements of the classic slasher genre and social satire, it's been compared to both Scream and Heathers for its dark comedic elements. Jack Quaid stars as the girls' classmate, Jordan, and Kevin Durand stars as Lowell. Josh Hutcherson and Craig Robinson also appear in minor roles, with Robinson also working as a producer.


This film contains the following tropes...

  • Action Girl: Both of the girls show some very impressive combat skills.
  • Adult Fear:
    • Your child could be going to school with a couple of psychopaths who are on a killing spree, and they're blending in perfectly.
    • Alternatively, your child could be one of those psychopaths, in spite of the fact that you raised them with love and affection.
  • Advertised Extra: Josh Hutcherson was in all the trailers, despite only being in the film for about ten minutes, probably because he's the biggest name in the cast. The trailers didn't even try to hide the fact that he dies, though.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Sadie often calls McKayla "M-Kay."
  • Alpha Bitch: The archetype is played with quite a bit.
    • Syl at first seems like a classic example, being popular, a cheerleader, hotheaded, and having an underling that she's rude to... except most of her bitchy moments come when she's already stressed out, and other than that, she comes off as a normal, generally nice girl who does charity work in her spare time.
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    • Sadie and McKayla come much closer, as they're both utterly horrible people who appear to be pretty popular at school, especially when Tragedy Girls takes off... except in the public eye, they're all sweetness and light.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Sadie and McKayla. Both girls show interest in men at different points, but it quickly becomes clear that they love each other above all else, and it's hard not to wonder if that love isn't 100% platonic. Their friendship is closer than a lot of people's marriages.
  • And the Adventure Continues: A very dark version, as the movie ends with the girls driving away from their hometown after having finished their killing spree, presumably to start the cycle over in a new place.
  • Arc Words: "What's next for the Tragedy Girls?"
  • Asshole Victim: Averted. All the victims, while sometimes stupid or self-centered, come off as genuinely decent people who don't deserve to die. The only exception to this is Lowell, who is, after all, a Serial Killer himself.
  • Attention Whore: The girls' motive can basically be boiled down to an insatiable need for fame and attention, no matter who has to suffer.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The girls get everything they wanted in the end, and become celebrities, with no one being the wiser to their true natures (at least, who's left alive).
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Early on, the girls dissolve a corpse in industrial lye, and mention they had to practice on stray cats and dogs in order to get the formula right. When she gets home, Sadie's dad asks if she's seen the cat lately...
  • The Bait: Sadie acts as this for Lowell in the opening. He falls for it, hook, line, and sinker.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Both of the girls act like charming, likable students whose biggest fault is social media addiction and milking the local tragedies a little too much, but are ultimately harmless. In reality? Not even close.
  • Black Comedy: How could a satire about two teenage serial killers be anything else?
  • Blatant Lies:
    • McKayla's explanation for how blood got onto the soles of her shoes.
    ...Heavy flow day.
    • At the end, the girls claim they want to live normal, anonymous lives as ordinary students. Even if the world doesn't realize they're murderers, this would come off as a baldfaced lie to anyone who follows their blog.
  • Cassandra Truth: Sheriff Welch tries to tell Jordan to stay away from Sadie.
  • The Cheerleader: Sadie, McKayla, and Syl are all on the cheer squad, and all seem to be quite popular. None of them are dumb, however, and Sadie and McKayla manage to keep (most of) their bitchiness under wraps.
  • Childhood Friends: McKayla and Sadie go way back, all the way to elementary school. They've been murdering people since elementary school too.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: After he refuses to help the girls, Lowell is tazed, locked in a box, and forced to subsist on canned dog food.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Sadie and McKayla are not afraid to fight dirty, and frequently utilize Improvised Weapons, knives, and guns against their unarmed victims.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: All of them. Seriously, the least gruesome death goes to Lowell, who gets shot. Everyone else gets treated to a drawn-out, gory, painful way to go.
  • Death by Cameo: Josh Hutcherson gets rather brutally murdered, and it was in all the ads. Craig Robinson doesn't fare much better.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Sheriff Welch becomes utterly despondent after Jordan dies.
  • Do Wrong, Right: All over the place. McKayla and Sadie frequently chastise each other for shoddy technique during their kills, and when Craig turns out to be Not Quite Dead at the beginning, they're both severely unimpressed with Lowell.
    McKayla: You couldn't even do that right?
  • Doting Parent: Mr. and Mrs. Hooper love their daughter to bits, and fawn over her. Clearly, they have no clue what she's really been getting up to...
  • Dumb Blonde: Inverted with Sadie; she's quite intelligent and schemeful compared to McKayla's poor impulse controls.
  • Enfant Terrible: It's revealed that the girls committed their first murder when they were only children.
  • Establishing Character Moment: In the first minutes of the movie, Sadie and McKayla capture a serial killer... by setting up their classmate up as bait. Rather than expressing horror that their classmate was just murdered, the girls Squee! over their victory. They then work together to knock the killer out, complaining about the poor quality tasers they bought, before finally whacking him over the head with a baseball bat. Audience, meet the Tragedy Girls!
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Or, in this case, Even Bad Girls Love Their Parents. While we don't see too many scenes of the girls interacting with their parents, they do appear to care about them, at least a little, and act affectionately towards them. Notably, the girls don't trash-talk them when they're alone, the same way they do Toby, Jordan, and Big Al, implying that the affection is genuine.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Just about the only redeeming quality our protagonists show is that they truly and deeply care for one another.
    • They also appear to genuinely care about their parents.
    • Subverted by Sadie's affection for Jordan. She does seem to like him a bit, but she kills him with no remorse when He Knows Too Much.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Sadie is disgusted when she sees McKayla making out with Toby while he is dying.
    • Sadie calls McKayla out for taunting Jordan about the death of his mother. Subverted, as it turns out, they killed her, and Sadie didn't want McKayla to blow their cover.
  • Evil Duo: But of course.
  • Evil Mentor: The girls initially want Lowell to be this for them, teaching them how to be effective murderers, but he doesn't go for it. So they settle for learning as they go, and using him as a scapegoat.
  • Evil vs. Evil: The girls versus another Serial Killer, Lowell.
  • Failed a Spot Check: After the murder of Syl, a janitor walks in as Sadie and McKayla are chopping up her body. He doesn't even notice.
  • Fake-Out Opening: The movie starts as many slasher films do — with the pretty blonde making out with a guy in a car in a secluded area, before he promptly gets butchered by a mysterious killer. The pretty blonde runs away and the killer gives chase... and he's promptly captured by the pretty blonde and her friend, who set the whole thing up as a trap for him.'
  • Famous Last Words:
    • "Ambulance..." - Craig
    • "If I'm gonna be murdered, I'm so happy it's you." - Toby
    • "...McKayla?" - Syl
    • "You bitches crazy!" - Big Al
    • "...Why...?" - Mrs. Kent
    • "You spend your life putting fake bullshit on the Internet! I'm gonna show you what it really looks like!" - Lowell
    • "I love you... the real you. Come on. You're nothing like her." - Jordan
  • Fille Fatale: Neither of the girls have a problem showing some skin or flirting with people to get what they want.
  • Final Girl: Played with. Sadie and McKayla are viewed as real-life final girls by the media after the massacre at prom, but, as the audience knows, they're the ones that were behind the massacre in the first place.
  • Finishing Each Other's Sentences: Sadie and McKayla, frequently.
  • Foil: McKayla and Sadie have a lot in common, but they contrast each other a lot, too.
    • McKayla is wealthy and has both her parents; Sadie lives in a trailer with her father.
    • McKayla has no friends outside of Sadie; Sadie has Jordan, who is also attracted to her.
    • McKayla is driven by her impulses and emotions; Sadie is driven by her schemes and intelligence.
  • Foreshadowing: At the scene in the cafe, McKayla states that she and Sadie haven't gone on their first killing spree yet. Note the wording — she does not say they haven't killed anyone. Turns out, their first murder was years ago.
  • Frame-Up: McKayla and Sadie plan to kill people, then pin all the blame on Lowell, who they're holding hostage. A few bumps notwithstanding, it works.
  • Framing the Guilty Party: Sorta. Lowell doesn't have anything to do with Sadie and McKayla's murders, but he is responsible for four other murders in the backstory. The cops and media mistakenly assume all the deaths are the work of one Serial Killer.
  • Freudian Excuse: Utterly averted. The film goes out of its way to show that Sadie and McKayla had very normal, very stable upbringings, with parents that love them. They weren't bullied in school, or scarred for life by some traumatic event. Nothing made them bad; they just are.
  • Freudian Trio: The three main characters fit the bill. Sadie is the calculating, scheming Ego, McKayla is the emotion-driven, impulsive Id, and Jordan is the levelheaded, easygoing Superego.
  • Good Parents: The girls' parents are shown to be affectionate, attentive, and caring. The girls grew up to be utter monsters anyway, not that their parents realize this. Well, they tried...
  • Gunman with Three Names: Lowell Orson Lehmann. Sadie lampshades it, commenting, "Good name for the media!" Sure enough, the news report at the ends refers to him by all three names.
  • He Knows Too Much: Sadie hangs Jordan when he finds out what she really is. Though, given the finale, she probably wasn't gonna let him live either way.
  • Hero Antagonist:
    • Sheriff Welch is determined to find out who the killer is, and wants to keep his son safe.
    • Big Al, the fire marshal, is determined to protect the community, and rallies people to try and hunt the killer down.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Sadie and McKayla are lifelong best friends and partners in crime. Though the "heterosexual" part is really debatable.
  • Holding Hands: Sadie and McKayla do this a lot, to show how close and affectionate their friendship is (or it might hint that their relationship isn't entirely platonic).
  • Hot-Blooded: McKayla is extremely impulsive, leading to Sadie having to rein her in.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: The girls claim this at the end, saying that after the massacre, they just want to live ordinary lives. It's a lie, of course.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Jordan begins to suspect there's something off about McKayla when she taunts him over the fact that his mother's murder was never solved, since the death was never officially ruled as a murder. However, he suspects that McKayla simply knows the murderer, since she was only a kid when it happened. He didn't realize she actually did it... or that Sadie helped.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: In one of the few deaths the girls aren't behind, the mayor winds up impaled on a flagpole.
  • Improvised Weapon: Chains, weights, saws... anything that's around is fair game.
  • Intrepid Reporter: The Tragedy Girls present themselves as these, and come off as selflessly brave journalists to the rest of the community.
  • It Gets Easier: McKayla reveals she was a wreck after she and Sadie killed Jordan's mother, and was on the verge of breaking down entirely. Clearly, she's gotten over this by the time of the film.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Lowell's comments about Sadie ordering McKayla around and having an ego aren't exactly incorrect.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Big Al is hotheaded and impulsive, but he's genuinely trying to protect the community. When Sadie shows up at the gym to kill him, his immediate instinct is to protect McKayla, at least before he realizes she's in on the attack too.
    • Mrs. Kent is abrasive, blunt, and cheating on her husband, but she cares about her students.
    • Toby comes off as a self-involved tool, but when he gets an ominous phone call that makes him think McKayla is in danger, he immediately goes off to check on her.
  • Karma Houdini: Not only do the girls not get caught, they get everything they wanted, and more. International fame, a book deal, an upcoming movie about them... and everyone who knows the truth about them is dead.
  • Knife Nut: Both girls prefer to wield knives against their victims.
  • Kubrick Stare: Sadie does this whenever she decides to kill somebody. McKayla borrows it when Sadie pushes her too far, but she can't go through with it.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Syl is a popular cheerleader that has her moments of bitchiness, but she's not really a bad person. She does charity work and is generally pretty nice — most of her nastier moments can be attributed to her being a stressed teenager that's lashing out.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: Jordan simply refuses to believe Sadie is a monster... right until she hangs him.
  • Made of Iron:
    • Craig survives a machete wound across the face and is left to bleed to death for at least an hour with no medical treatment, and still has to be suffocated by Sadie.
    • Toby survives a brutal motorcycle crash that leaves his leg broken so badly it bends practically 90 degrees, gets stabbed five times, is also suffocated, and still spits out some Famous Last Words.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Inverted. Sadie and McKayla are really irritated when the cops keep ruling their murders as "accidents," despite all their efforts to make it clear they're not.
  • Malevolent Masked Men:
    • Lowell wears a bag mask when he is out on the hunt.
    • When murdering Syl, McKayla and Sadie wear blank white masks. After murdering Jordan, they put on pink and green masks, respectively, and wear them as they burn down the gymnasium where prom is being held.
  • Meaningful Name: The main characters' last names are Cunningham and Hooper, as in Sean S. Cunningham and Tobe Hooper, two famous slasher film directors.
  • Missing Mom:
    • Sadie's mom is never mentioned, and she lives alone with her father.
    • Jordan's mother died when he was a kid. He has Sadie and McKayla to thank for that.
  • Monster Fangirl: Sadie and McKayla introduce themselves to Lowell as his "biggest fans." However, they very quickly grow disillusioned with him.
  • Nice Guy: Jordan, who's calm, supportive, kindhearted, and loyal to a fault.
  • Nice Shoes: McKayla wears hot pink high-tops with matching laces, which is what tips Syl off that McKayla is one of her killers.
  • Not Quite Dead: Both Craig and Toby survive the initial attempts on their lives, albeit in very bad shape, leading Sadie and McKayla to intervene.
  • Off with His Head!:
    • The girls decapitate Syl after her death, and leave her head on a turntable for someone to find the next morning.
    • Big Al's head gets taken off by a set of weights falling on his neck.
  • Oh, Crap!: The girls when they realize Lowell's escaped.
  • Only Friend: It's all but stated that Sadie is all McKayla has by way of friends. Sadie at least also has Jordan, sort of.
    McKayla: You don't need other friends. You've got me.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Syl's full name is Sylvia, but no one ever calls her that.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Nicky Whelan mostly puts on an impeccable American accent playing Mrs. Kent. Saying certain words though causes her native Australian accent to bleed through.
  • Overly Long Gag: Toby takes so long to die, it circles back around into being hilarious.
  • Perspective Flip: The movie's basically a Slasher Movie, except instead of following a group of teenagers who get picked off one-by-one by a mysterious killer, we follow the killers as they go on their murder spree.
  • Police are Useless: The local police department hasn't been making any headway with solving the killings, which the Tragedy Girls exploit to hell and back.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: McKayla and Sadie, respectively. McKayla's hotheaded, emotional, and impulsive, where Sadie is far more cold, calculating, and calm.
  • Revealing Hug: Sadie frequently looks bored or irritated while hugging and kissing Jordan, indicating that she's not quite as into him as he believes.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Guess who? The girls are impossibly close friends, and share everything with one another. They're also very physically affectionate, frequently holding hands or leaning against one another.
  • Second-Act Breakup: Sadie and McKayla have a falling-out halfway through, when the fame begins to go to Sadie's head. They make up when McKayla saves Sadie's life.
  • Serial Killer:
    • Our "heroes". Over the course of the film, they kill Craig, Toby, Syl, Big Al, Mrs. Kent, Lowell, Jordan, and the entire senior class. That last one technically makes them mass-murderers. Oh, and they also killed Jordan's mom in the backstory.
    • Lowell killed four people before the movie began.
  • Shout-Out:
    • McKayla describes Syl's gruesome (and utterly ridiculous) demise as, "Some Final Destination shit."
    • While disposing of a body by dissolving it in industrial lye, the girls admit they got the idea from Breaking Bad.
  • Slasher Movie: The film's best described as a slasher movie, told from the point of view of the killers.
  • Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror: It's primarily comedic, with even the murders being shown in a darkly hilarious light, but when the film decides to really get scary... hoo boy.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Way, way over on the cynical side.
  • The Sociopath: The titular Tragedy Girls. They care for no one but themselves and each other, along with their parents, and will stop at nothing to get what they want. To them, murder is a mere stepping stone to fame. Sadie comes off as a high-functioning sociopath, being intelligent, ruthlessly pragmatic, and charming, while McKayla is a low-functioning one; impulsive, hotheaded and confrontational.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: "All I Have to Do is Dream" by the Everly Brothers, a serene, soft tune, playing over the entire senior class getting burned to death as our heroes watch.
  • Spoiler Cover: Several of the posters and the cover to the DVD clearly show the massacre on prom night.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Yes. Sadie Cunningham and McKayla Hooper are quite possibly two of the most evil teenagers to ever exist onscreen.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Our main characters are awful, awful people, which makes for some excellent Black Comedy.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Entirely averted. The girls were always psychopaths, and were murderers before they even began high school.
  • Villain Protagonist: Our main characters are Serial Killers, and not the sympathetic kind, either.
  • We Can Rule Together: Lowell offers this to McKayla, in exchange for letting him go. She laughs him off, but later takes him up on it when he escapes and the girls have a falling-out. It's then subverted when he turns on her, not forgetting how awfully she and Sadie treated him... and it turns out McKayla was prepared for this, and she shoots him dead.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Mrs. Kent publicly calls the girls out for milking the local tragedies for their own gain. She's more right than she could possibly know.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The only thing we know for sure is that Rosedale is somewhere in the Midwest, but Jordan's suggestions for where Sadie could go to college (Kent State and Ohio State University) suggest it's in Ohio.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Mrs. Kent is cheating on her husband with Big Al.


Example of: