Horror-comedy Tragedy Girls will officially be hitting select US theatres this weekend. The film has already generated enough buzz, having traveled the worldwide festival circuit this past summer. Kim and Jon of Nightmare on Film street were able to catch the film at both Toronto After Dark and Fantasia Film Festival. (Check out our recent review of Tragedy Girls here.)
Tragedy Girls also took home awards for Best Picture and Best Screenplay at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival. And, the two leading ladies, Brianna Hildebrand and Alexandra Shipp, shared the award for Best Actress.
I had the opportunity to briefly speak with director Tyler MacIntyre about the themes and the development of Tragedy Girls. Read on for the highlights from our exclusive chat.
Chris Aitkens for Nightmare on Film Street: I was really surprised by your movie. I wasn’t expecting a commentary on the “evils of social media.”
Tyler MacIntyre: That was definitely something we were thinking a lot about when we were going into it. We really wanted to try out something that was more fresh in the narrative and social media is big part of our lives right now. We were talking about how slasher movies in the 80s and 90s were very moralizing, there’s often this baby-boomer old world mindset. But it’s another time now, and we wanted to say something about how people live now and how social media is disassociating us from real conflict and violence. I don’t think we’ve culturally processed that yet. All that takes the shape of this social media satire that’s really at the heart of this movie.
NOFS: And I found that it was also a commentary on people’s obsession with serial killers. Did you ever understand that?
TM: My mom is a psychologist so I grew up around that talk. I’m also a true crime fan so I do understand the idea of why people who behave in that way can be intriguing. I think it’s why horror itself is attractive, it’s something that we’re afraid of fundamentally and it’s our way of confronting that in a safe environment. So I understand that, and we’re kind of parodying it. These girls have their true crime blog and they’re committing these crimes for very selfish needs, and it shows this cautionary tale.
NOFS: I also liked the references to other horror movies; there’s references to Death Proof, Final Destination, Cannibal Holocaust, are there any others I might have missed?
TM: Oh yeah, there’s tons of them, they’re all over the movie. It’s because we had a lot of horror fans working on the film. There are many references, some meant to be obvious, and some meant to be subtle. A lot of the subtle ones are put in by our production designer Mars Freehery, such as Sylvia’s lending library looking like the Myers’ house from Halloween. We also named a lot of the characters after horror directors, like the teacher Mrs. Kent is name after Jennifer Kent, director of the Babadook. It’s hard to keep track of all of them.
NOFS: Did you have to do any research to tap into the head of a teenage girl?
TM: Yeah, we were very worried about that, just in terms of trying to nail that voice down and make it sound authentic. Early on, I reached out to a friend of mine who has a daughter, who’s an actress and is 17. We sat down and did a table read with her and a friend of hers, and we wanted to see what they responded to, based on the dialogue. They would say something like “this isn’t necessarily something I would say, but I do want to say stuff like this.” And I would rework the dialogue based on their feedback to make it feel more authentic for their friendship for girls at that age. And we worked with Brianna [Hildebrand] and Alexandra [Shipp] to keep tabs on that, and some of the other actresses were 18 or 19, which is not too far off from the ages in the film, so we worked with them very closely.
NOFS: Is the movie really coming out this Friday?
TM: Yes, the US release is October 20th in Los Angeles and then it expands next week.
NOFS: Based on the festival run, do you think it’s going to be received well by the public?
TM: I’m not sure. I hope it performs well. Either way, people have been understanding it and critically, they’ve been kind. I’ve been watching it with audiences all around the world and people have been responding to it and I hope that’s reflected in how it does. I’m quite satisfied with the work we put in and where the project ended up in general.
Tragedy Girls will be shown in select theatres as of October 20th. For dates and locations of screenings, go here.