If evil takes a human form in Regina George, then the girls of the 90s teen clique films are on a whole other level of being in cahoots with the devil himself. The films, Heathers (1989, (close enough to 90s)), The Craft (1996) and Jawbreaker (1999), all follow a similar storyline of a new girl joining a clique and becoming the meanest girl, before realising it isn’t quite their thing and tearing down the groups’ social standing. All very Mean Girls, right? But there’s quite a difference between these three films and the likes of Mean Girls; in Mean Girls the bitchiness is confined to clique drama and those who have been personally victimised by Regina George- in these films, if the Queen Bee doesn’t like you, you’ll probably end up dead by the start of school tomorrow. There ain’t no cake filled with rainbows and smiles here:
The first of the mean girl films, Heathers, follows ‘The Heathers’ clique; three girls with the same name, and one girl called Veronica. This key difference sets them apart- with Veronica being established as the ‘good’ one with morals. However, this doesn’t stop her and new boyfriend JD from killing off half of her peers and covering it up as a spate of suicides. The self-involved students do not suspect a thing, seeing the ‘suicides’ as just an excuse to have a day off school. Like the later released Jawbreaker, Heathers takes place in a bright colourful world that heavily contradicts the dark themes that its black comedy deals with, revealing how girl world isn’t quite as ‘peachy keen’ as it appears on the surface. Jawbreaker, a film that often receives negative reviews, is like a dream mix of Heathers and Mean Girls. Firmly set in that awkward 90s period in which absolutely no one ever wore a bra, this film features equal amounts of catfights and homicide, as a prank gone wrong leads to social outcast, Fern Mayo, being transformed into the new ‘it’ girl. Instead of a touching speech accompanied by the sharing of the Spring Fling Queen crown, the prom at the end of Jawbreaker ends with head bitch in charge Courtney being more or less stoned by corsages as she attempts to run away from her crimes. Not quite so Mean Girls…
The Craft, featuring a group of girls who violate every uniform code possible to dress in a style dark enough to match their souls, differs slightly from this. They are by no means the popular girls that rule the school, but they do very much have power; while not a popular clique, they are in fact part of a coven. While not focussing too much on the high school popularity contest, and despite the witchy themes, The Craft still provides a pretty convincing portrayal of teen girls; with an abundance of emotional scenes, tantrums and the promise of revenge.
Like Mean Girls, the downfall for all of these cliques lies in the inclusion of their latest recruit who takes over the top spot and then challenges their terrible ways. It seems that these three films portray ‘girl world’ in a much more realistic way than other teen clique films such as Clueless, where Cher is just too nice to be that popular- in reality she would have been a bitch, and this is what makes Heathers, Jawbreaker and The Craft seem more truthful. Although to make it clear, I am by no means suggesting that girls tend to go around casually murdering each other.