Remember when Christian Slater was pegged as the next big leading man? A real Tom Cruise style figurehead that would go on to star in the likes of 3000 Miles to Graceland and that one episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. His brooding attire throughout the 1988 classic Heathers sees him take on the role of J.D., a potential psychopath that attracts our leading character, Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder). A film that has a cult status greater than that of what a film can live up to, Heathers is problematic from the get go.
Slater’s leading role oozes tones of Jack Nicholson, a kinetic energy that rivals the rest of the cast on a basis of realism. His attitude towards the ever-dwindling scenarios he and Veronica find themselves in is palatable, but not all that interesting. Heathers could remind the review of films like Badlands, a plucky and evil leading man charms his way into the life of an innocent woman and takes them along for the ride in a murderous rampage. The leading performances are serviceable enough, with Slater coming across as slimy and unlikeable, a characteristic that also leads to him being an uninteresting and unengaging character. Ryder suffers the same problem, the guilt of her actions never given enough highlighting thoughts for it to really make an impact on an otherwise interesting premise from director Michael Lehmann.
The bitchy attitudes of your typical high school are captured well, it’s just a shame that the average high school student is a dull blend of boring and stupid. Veronica and J.D. are interesting characters and serviceable leads, but fall into the same issues that every other high school outcast has. Somehow managing to set a trend for films like The Edge of Seventeen and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, while also steering away from what makes those films mediocre. It’s such a strange mixture of moderately lukewarm performances and some solid enough dark comedy that doesn’t do anything to prove its memorability.
Coming of age movies have been about seemingly since the dawn of time at this point, and Heathers’ truly dark and somewhat engaging twist is unfortunately not enough to get it off the ground in what feels more and more like a misfire as the film wears on. A strict storyline that leaves little room for growth or interest in any of the side characters, and filled to the brim with 80s cheese and cliché that’ll leave you reeling for some focus of originality.